Gerrit Rietveld

A maker of objects and things magical.

»The first thought that came into my head when I began to review my personal relationship to Rietveld and the Schröder House was to avoid scuttlebutt as it was Rietveld’s reserved manner that I admired most. It seemed to me the only one truly becoming of an architect.« Rietveld touched only small things, each was given a life of its own, enriching the town (usually his home town) for its ordinary sake. But sometimes this resulted in an international sensation that touched the life of every man.


[Rietveld was] ... never the assessor, the commissioner, the author of preliminary notes, or the knowledgeable expert on a government panel. Simply a builder and furniture maker. Simply a builder and furniture maker? Then one understands why our worlds are built. It is inescapable that the Red-Blue Chair and the Schröder house are magical objects, and it is this that drew me to Rietveld in the first place. The work of the members of the De Stijl group is usually wonderful, some few De Stijl objects are magical things. Theo van Doesburg’s never are. Mondrian’s often, Van der Lecks very often – but children’s magic, not adult magic. It is not my place to attempt to explain how this magic came about. I cannot believe that somebody could be magical by design, but the mysticism of the early De Stijl Movement – the theosophy (even Le Corbusier quoted Krishna Murti in his »Ville Radieuse«) – cannot be entirely discounted as a factor. There is however no doubt that the De Stijl Movement lent new vitality to architecture and painting in its time; and its impact can still be felt, just as one can sense the magic of an earlier age in Segesta – this type of magic endures for a long time. The magic rests within the very objects; not within their photographs. In the aftermath of the first war, De Stijl objects were what Pollock and Eames were to become for my generation after the second war – they enabled the arts to begin once more. P.S., March 1965 Will people speak about the Eames of today as they once did of Rietveld: »What’s so special about the things they made? It’s just a house and a few chairs.« A.S., published in Bauen und Wohnen, July 1965



Gerrit Rietveld