Rietveld’s Furniture

So far on this trip, we’ve been lucky enough to see some truly unique things around The Netherlands, especially in museums. In Utrecht, I found my favorite set (so far)—Gerrit Rietveld’s furniture. That city’s Centraal Museum has an extensive collection, updated for the 100th anniversary of his iconic Red and Blue Chair.

Some of Rietveld’s chairs in Utrecht Centraal Museum, including some iterations of the Red and Blue Chair.

I never thought I would get this excited about furniture, but this exhibition, along with the Rietveld-Schroeder House, changed that. Put simply, these chairs are just weird—they don’t look like anything I’ve ever sat in before, or seen in someone’s living room. It’s such a simple idea, with the simplest possible colors and material, but it all comes together to resonate in just the right way.

It’s not just the chairs, either; Rietveld made other furniture that’s just as striking. Take a look at this dresser:

Dresser by Rietveld, Utrecht Centraal Museum.

What I find most exciting about this piece is that it doesn’t sacrifice function for style. If we take away the white pieces or the wood that sticks out, this is perfectly practical for storage, but a few geometric details have turned it into something extraordinary. The best part is that the only shapes Rietveld added were squares and rectangles, and that’s enough to achieve the same effect as a furniture maker adding complicated carvings or a gold inlay.

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