DIY De Stijl Furniture

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The original 2002 page just dealt with models of the Rietveld Red-Blue Chair. At the time of the rewrite (October 2011), I am working on reconstructing a Rietveld table lamp and toying with the idea of building copies of the Red-Blue and Steltman chairs (I have always liked the Berlin Chair too). And there's a desk.

There's a terrific bi-ligual book on the subject which includes plans for the light and the three chairs mentioned. Wave Hill have a simplified version of the Red-Blue and there is an LA Times article on it here.
There's no end of good sources on the Red-Blue, for example, pushpullbar.

Here are images of the lamp and chairs I have mentioned (click the taxt label for a project update):

Rietveld Rietveld Rietveld Rietveld
Table lamp Red-Blue Chair Steltman Chair Berlin Chair

Table Lamp

[5Apr13] This project has been languishing for several years. I must have started it at least four years ago as I obtained the piece of copper pipe from a work colleague, and I retired in 2009. The other two pieces I bought from B&Q. I assembled the pipes a couple of years ago and also toyed with a combination of wood and metal pieces. [6th - I have found the original pack of bulbs I ordered which still had the ebay invoice dated 10th Jan 2007.] Rietveld
The project ground to a halt when I couldn't find a lamp-holder to attach at the top, but, to take a diversion and to evidence the theory that clouds have linings, I have recently painted out the Mondrian Wall which has been a feature of the house for years.
I regard it as a USP for the house but, apparently, that is a view not universally held, and so with the house on the market, it had to go. Plan A was to leave the painting in place and plasterboard over the wall to conceal it (I'll always know it's there, etc.), but when the time came to buy the bits and get to work, logic and laziness overcame sentimentality and I painted it out. The cunningly integrated light fitting came down and yielded a bulb holder which might do the business and so the table lamp project is reborn.
The metalwork is already done and I bought pots of Humbrol paint for the project years ago and so this early stage was soon reached.
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Steltman Chair

[5Apr13] I thought I had posted images of the Steltman Chair which I finished some time ago, but clearly not: I'll address that later.

[5Apr13] I have found one snap of the Steltman during construction. It was taken on 3rd June 2012 (f3.5 1/30th: aren't cameras clever these days).
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Red-Blue Chair

[18Apr12]
Finished today, all but for some finishing touches. The first snap is in the workshop, the second back at home with its new occupant.

Work should start on the Steltman next week.
[21Feb12]
The framework of the chair is now complete. The back and seat are just resting in place. There's a three-week break in the course, during which I will aim to colour all the components, then return for final assembly and make a start on the Steltman Chair.

I should have mentioned the wood used. Catford Timber were extremely helpful in advising and providing the timber: the book recommended beech which would have cost £90 but Catford suggested poplar at £50, which I chose. The grain is far less attractive, but as it is all going to be stained, the cost saving seemed worthwhile.

The instructions in the book, Rietveld Furniture, are extremely good, although there are a couple of holes missing in the back rail and it should be made clear that the holes joining up with those which are drilled through should be drilled only after initial assembly (this will probably only make sense if you have a try).
[14Feb12] Some progress to report on the Red-Blue Chair.
A woodworking course at Greenwich Leisure has allowed the necessary access to tools, space and expert advice to get about half-way. The ad is for the likely source of colours.

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Now back to the original contents of this page.

Well, it's not exactly a Mondrian. If you want some real Mondrian furniture, get some orange crates and make your own bookshelves etc, paint them white and add cardboard rectangles painted in primary colours. But the Rietveld chair is one of the cornerstones of De Stijl design and the Mondrian associations were strong. Here's one in kit form from eBay.

Check here for a variation on this theme.

All the text in italics is from the eBay sales pitches:

Rietveld RED & BLUE Chair Model Kit, De Stijl
The item up for bids is a wonderful circa 1983 model kit of Gerrit Thomas Rietveld's seminal "Red and Blue" chair. The kit contains wood for the chair with pre-inserted metal pegs for the joints, enamel paint in four authentic colors, and an instruction book that gives a brief history of Rietveld and his chair. The wood is a good quality straight grained hardwood, it is not balsa or pine. The model is in a 1:6 scale.

One of the most original and important pieces of furniture designed in the twentieth century, [it] challenged the traditional shapes of useful objects by redefining the structure of their forms and internal spaces . . . Recognized from its creation as a revolutionary invention, the chair became the standard of the Dutch De Stijl group, which Rietveld joined in 1919 . . . With elements painted in red, black and blue and edged in yellow [it] reflects the use of flat primary colors used by the De Stijl painters Piet Mondrian, Vilmos Huszar, and Theo van Doesburg . . .

K. B. Heizenger and G. H. Marcus, Landmarks of Twentieth-Century Design, 1993, Abbeville Press, New York

Condition: The kit is in excellent condition. All the pieces are present and accounted for. The paint is still liquid, I don't know if it's still usable. The box is in good shape with tears to one end piece. The graphics are good. I should point out the kit was dry assembled for the photo and to make sure all the pieces were present, it has never been glued or painted.
Dimensions: The box is 9" by 6 1/2". The chair is about 6" tall and 4" wide.
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VITRA-MINIATURE ~RED BLUE ARMCHAIR~NEW!!!

“one serves mankind by enlightening it’ was the mantra of the De Stijl movement in Holland in the 1917. Designers working on spatial problems became interested in the Japanese design qualities of austerity and sophistication. Straight lines, right angles, smooth surfaces with concealed wood grains were covered with primary colors and basic black, white and grays. Harmony of the designs were achieved by restraining these simple elements.

Gerrit Rietveld disbanded the traditional armchair and composed it into a composition of lines and space with a strong visual connection to the paintings of Mondrian, also a De Stijl member. The Red/Blue Chair was designed abandoning traditional joinery to insure that each plane could remain distinct. Although originally made with a natural wood finish, Rietveld later reconsidered and painted it the red, blue and yellow lacquer, juxtaposed with black aniline dye. The Red/ Blue (Roodblauwe Stoel) is a pivotal modern work, and an impressive piece of sculpture.

This Vitra Design Museum original is reproduced in painstaking detail 6:1 scale by the Vitra Design Museum. It is brand new and perfect in it's wooden packing crate.

This model is 15.5cm x 12.5cm x 15 cm, and is made of wood with colored varnish

The Vitra Miniatures Collection consists of key objects in international design history, true to their originals and reduced in size on a scale of 1:6. Thanks to their precision and originality these miniatures are not only collection-pieces for furniture-lovers, they also make ideal visual aids for universities and colleges of design. Comes boxed in it's own wooden crate and packaging. Definitely a "GOTTA-HAVE-IT" item for modern furniture fans!!


These models have always gone for silly prices on ebay, but I picked up a plastic model from China on ebay a few months ago (late 2010).
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original page October 2002, rewritten October 2011