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Design Icon: Rietveld Red & Blue Chair

Design*Sponge | Design Icon: Red and Blue Chair by Gerrit Rietveld, ca. 1923

Design: Red and Blue Chair

Designer: Gerrit Rietveld (Dutch, 1888-1964)

Date: 1918 (colors added in 1923)

Country of Origin: The Netherlands

Associated Movement: De Stijl (pronounced “de style”)

Materials & Construction: lacquered beech wood

Background: Gerrit Rietveld’s Red and Blue chair is one of the most well-known icons of the De Stijl movement, a design ideology that sprang to life in post-WWI Holland. Also known as “Neoplasticism,” the movement championed extreme abstraction through the use of severe horizontals and verticals and primary colors. With proponents of the style ranging from the movement’s founder, Theo Van Doesburg to the painter Piet Mondrian, it has been posited that De Stijl’s distilled aesthetic was a response to the chaos and turmoil of the first World War—an effort to create harmony and order in people’s lives. While Rietveld was, like many, a Modernist designer interested in creating designs that were ergonomic and able to be easily reproduced, he also longed for his work to transcend material function, to allow for spiritual enrichment, as well. Originally located in the Rietveld-designed Schröder House, the chair was able to live harmoniously with its surroundings and do just that.

More information on the Museum of Modern Art’s website.

Illustration by Libby VanderPloeg.

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3 Comments

Sarah

I am taking this opportunity to brag that I live across the street from the Schroeder House. It’s lovely.

Paula Madsen

I had to make this chair in my interior design course. I suspect that Ikea might owe something of it’s origins to Mr Reitveld. Putting the red blue chair together is very much an Ikea furniture-building experience. It might not be the most beautiful chair ever designed, but I can assure you, that it is surprisingly comfortable to sit in and the more I see it, the more I appreciate its simple elegance.

Susanne

Beside his marvellous designs, Rietveld fascinates me as he wished that people should build his furnitures themselves. I have the book “How to Construct Rietveld Furniture” and did the Seltman chair as well as the Red and Blue Chair for me.

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