Leila Pärtelpoeg/1927

Eesti NSV Riiklik Kunstiinstituut, 1954

State Art Institute of the Estonian SSR, 1954

Leila Pärtelpoeg on sisearhitekt, kelle kireks on olnud ajalooliste interjööride taastamine. Suur osa Eesti mõisahooneid on restaureerimise käigus saanud just tema poolt kavandatud või hoolikalt kokku korjatud ajaloolise mööbli. Samuti on ta teinud arvukalt restoranide ja kaupluste sisekujundusi. ERKI-s töötas ta aastaid ruumi- ja mööblikujunduse õppejõuna, korraldades muu hulgas ka mõõdistamispraktikaid.

Leila Pärtelpoeg is an interior architect, whose passion has been the restoration of historical interiors. A large number of Estonia’s manor houses have received historical furnishings carefully collected or designed by her hand during the course of their restoration. She is likewise responsible for the interior designs of many restaurants and shops. Pärtelpoeg worked for years as an instructor of spatial and furniture design at the State Art Institute, also conducting dimensioning internships.

Interview. Leila Pärtelpoeg (excerpts)


I am a graduate of the Tallinn State Applied Art Institute. I know applied art. I love it. I love classical art and everything that is deemed beautiful. If the human race in general has decided that something is beautiful, I go with it.

My work and my different employers have brought me in contact with Baltic Germans. They have told me: “You may decorate those rooms, if you want to, but never claim that we lived this way.” I knew this before they told me that. It is self-evident. Nothing can be recreated. I have felt the class distinction. I have felt it with Baltic Germans. It is there and they stick to it. I feel insignificant. That all of it, all the rooms that I have decorated are not their rooms. I have talked to this person, this lady – her name is Gisela von Gernet. Gisela’s father was a topographer for the Russian tsar – a position of high esteem. He did a lot of work for the tsar and he owned nine manors near Haapsalu. All of these manor houses belonged to Gisela’s father. Gisela is of the same age as I am – I was born in 1927, just like her. Gisela went to the Nõmme Gymnasium, which was an excellent school during the inter-war period. Gisela speaks Estonian fluently but she is gorgeous, she has blue eyes, never has a single hair on her clothes… She is perfect.

I am not. I keep digging and following my own path and I feel like a serf. It is a horrible feeling. It weighs you down, the seven hundred years one has served them. For seven hundred years, my ancestors have slaved for them and they have built the manor houses that I have now brought back to life and filled with junk that is of no interest to them or does not belong to them. Although, in many places, the real stuff is there as well. But nobody takes inventory.

In the hands of RMK* these places seem to have heavenly prospects – RMK has the money to keep them. The money comes from Russian weddings (where chairs are broken) and parties à la Russe where people in wartime army boots dance on the 1.5 millimetres that is left of the old parquet. But the client knows best.

Manor ensembles make Estonia more beautiful. Nobody can dispute that. They are lovely and special. They are not huge dull giants like in Latvia. Latvians are a different kind of people altogether. Different to Estonians. The difference is that they have now suddenly started claiming in their books that these are their manors, Latvian manors. We are not doing that. We have never forgotten about those seven hundred years of serfdom and about the manors belonging to Baltic Germans.

There was a moment when I was a Viking – when Matti Klinge started writing. It was like the last chance of being free. And it is difficult for me to respect the Livonian Brothers of the Sword.** I just can’t. Their way of spreading the faith makes me suspicious of any kind of religion. My mother comes from a forest village in Järvamaa, a region with excellent soils. Recently, enthusiasts of local history have written a lot about the ancient times and the general picture follows the same pattern: every 50 years, an army comes, kills all the men and steals all the crops. It is horrible what has happened to us.

I feel this acutely. And nowadays, when everything is public and everybody may research their ancestry, I have learned – from a single scribbled line – that my first known forefather was a mercenary soldier of Carl XII. This is a thought of comfort for me, in the story where every single man could have been a serf.

* Estonian State Forest Management Centre

** Schwertbrüderorden, the religious-military order established for the conversion of pagans in the territory of modern Estonia and Latvia in the 13th century, later merged with the Teutonic Order

Kohvik puhkerajooni, III kursus, 1950, juhendaja P. Tarvas, seinavaade

Café for a holiday area, 3rd year, 1950, supervisor P. Tarvas, wall view

Kohvik puhkerajooni, III kursus, 1950, juhendaja P. Tarvas, seinavaade

Café for a holiday area, 3rd year, 1950, supervisor P. Tarvas, wall view

Klaasakna kavand, V kursus, 1952, juhendaja E. J. Kuusik

Sketch for a glass window, 5th year, 1952, supervisor E. J. Kuusik

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