The Harrenstein-Schräder Residence

In 1926, Gerrit Rietveld and Truus Schröder-Schräder were commissioned to design the renovation of the Harrenstein-Schräder residence. Dr. Harrenstein, an accomplished pediatrician, was married to Schröder-Schräder’s sister, An. The couple had an extensive circle of friends including artists and designers, and it was fitting for Rietveld and Schröder-Schräder to take on the project, designing the living room and bedroom of the couple’s Amsterdam home and later, a guest room and Dr. Harrenstein’s surgery, office and waiting room. Reitveld exhibited an impressive ability to transition a domestic setting to an almost severe, stylized interior while remaining cohesive and the designs for the Harrenstein-Schräder residence were praised by his contemporaries. It is likely that the present lot would have been utilized in either the doctor’s office, or in the couple’s the living room which featured an open, informal floorplan segmented by a round iron stove, furniture in iron and glass and a Red Blue chair. In a period photo of the living room interior, various household items and books appear stacked on shelves and shuffled into the built-in storage. Along the wall, a long horizontal glass cabinet displays dishes and glassware above a simple bench with a mounted backrest. The adjacent office however, is known only through drawings which illustrate glass wall-mounted cabinets and Thonet chairs. 

In contrast to the living room’s somewhat tame, domestic sensibility, and the office’s modest design, the bedroom was quite radical and illustrated the rapid progression of Rietveld's distinct style. Horizontal panels of wood and glass separated the room into sleeping areas and the beds and cabinets were painted red, yellow, black and off-white. Rietveld also included a single bed in addition to the double bed, a detail that raised eyebrows when it was suggested that the bed belonged to the painter Jacob Bendien with whom the couple formed a ménage à trois for many years. In reality, it was included for Dr. Harrenstein who was often called to sick patients in the night and wished to return home to bed without disturbing his wife. Reitveld exhibited an impressive ability to transition a domestic setting to an almost severe, stylized interior while remaining cohesive and the designs for the Harrenstein-Schräder residence were praised by his contemporaries. In 1971, when the home was demolished, the bedroom was bought in its entirety by the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam where it can be viewed today.

Gerrit Rietveld

Gerrit Rietveld was a celebrated designer and architect, famous for bringing the principles of the De Stijl Movement to these disciplines. Rietveld was born in 1888 in Utrecht, Netherlands to a family of cabinetmakers and later studied drafting and architecture. Rietveld opened his own furniture studio in 1917 and soon after became involved with the De Stijl Movement. In 1918, he designed his now-famous Red Blue armchair, which was heralded as a distillation of the movement’s emphasis on geometry, primary colors and an objective language of forms. He regarded this chair, and others he would design, as “spatial creations,” rather than simply furniture. The Schröder House in Utrecht, designed by Rietveld in 1924, is regarded as the architectural embodiment of the ideals of De Stijl and his most important work. In 1928, Rietveld distanced himself from De Stijl and became concerned with the challenges of affordable housing. He was a visionary in designing prefabricated and standardized buildings, of which the architectural world would not consider more seriously until the 1950s. In the 1930s and 1940s, Rietveld largely worked on private commissions and designed enduring modernist icons such as the Crate chair and Zig Zag chair, both from 1934. His last major work before his death in 1964 was the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, which was completed in 1973.

Auction Results Gerrit Rietveld