What a shock the Rietveld-Schröder house must have been in 1925. Built according to the ideas of De Stijl (The Style). the two storey house consists of strict horizontal and vertical lines and a sober palette of grey, white and primary colours. It leans againsr a block of traditional houses.
Would I want to live there? The question popped in my head as I entered the hall of Rietveld’s masterpiece at the Prins Hendriklaan in Utrecht, virtually the heart of The Netherlands. Surely the house designed for his client, mistress and business partner Truus Schröder-Schräder is a work of art, both inspiring and innovative. It secured its place on the UNESCO World Heritage list for a reason. But no, I do not want to live in this 3D Mondrian living machine. The rooms downstairs, where Rietveld held office, are cramped, dark and industrial. The second storey is an open plan living, but does not leave any room for privacy. You could slide walls between the spaces, but is that really what you want, a scarcely decorated room, only divided from family and guests by a panel?
Truus Schröder lived in her Stijl-house till her passing in 1985, but she made some adjustments over the years. Even the free spirited interior designer wanted more privacy and asked Rietveld in 1937 to create a third storey. They removed the attic in 1957. The lady of the house also wanted more cabinets, cupboards and beds. After 1985 the house was restored to its original condition. Rietveld’s iconic red and blue chair and Berlin chair are present, as well as his hanging tube lamp, made famous by Bauhaus director Walter Gropius, who used a slightly different model in his office.