1 ..while we saw it (art) as something endangering design. design should develop its results from the object. the danger lay in design becoming an applied art and borrowing its solutions from art. charles eames’ chairs had just become familiar, convincing models for the unity of technology, functionality and aesthetics. this was design based on the task set. design without formal borrowing from art. conversly rietveld’s constructivist chairs were unmasked as mondrians to sit on, unsuitable art objects with the handicap of trying to be useful.
otl aicher, the world as design. ernst and sohn 1991
2 GERRIT RIETVELD’S RED AND BLUE CHAIR
& What I Learned about Rest and Motion in Myself
By Anthony C. Romeo, AIA
In 1918, the architect Gerrit Thomas Rietveld designed a chair that affected not only furniture design, but the history of architecture. Rietveld’s “Red and Blue” chair is now in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, and it is a chair I love.
Rietveld felt a chair should not be used to retire from the world or get away from thought. “We must remember,” he said, “that sit is a verb too.”
What do we feel as we sit in our favorite chair? Do we like it because it supports us, or because it consoles us? Do we feel alert or sleepy? Rietveld’s chairs represent something Aesthetic Realism taught me: that we don’t get to true repose by putting the world aside. In his book, De Stijl, Paul Overy writes:
One of the functions of Rietveld’s chairs, with their hard seats and backs, is to focus our senses, to make us alert and aware. Rietveld was not interested in conventional ideas of comfort (the 19th century armchair that relaxes you so much that you spill your coffee or fall asleep over your book). He wished to keep the sitter physically and mentally “toned up.”
“I am constantly concerned,” Rietveld said, “with this extraordinary idea of the awakening of the consciousness.”
3 By Editor Design.nl /asdf 01-08-2007
A recently rediscovered Rietveld chair has been auctioned at Christie’s for a record amount of 264, 000 euros.
The winning bidder was an American, who paid the record amount for the chair, a white variant of Rietveld’s famous ‘red-blue chair’. It was the highest amount ever paid at an auction for an object designed by Rietveld. The uncoloured style icon, made in 1923 for the Hague avant-garde poet Til Brugman, was thought to have been lost until it was discovered by Christie’s in the collection of a private collector, now with cushions, but otherwise in good condition.
All the other examples of early work by Rietveld have been in museum collections for many years. The rediscovered chair’s provenance got around ten ‘big’ bidders interested, which helped to drive the price up to its record level.
4 (the people who own these rare chairs might logically want the others destroyed thereby conferring more value on the remaining ones although if it transpired that only one was left, and of course only one person can use this item at a time, might it not be best if we all sat on it one by one until it broke – thus being tested to pieces, and it reverted to being only a design?)