beauty from destruction

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One of the important pieces of cultural heritage that has been lost during the fire in The faculty of architecture in Delft was Rietvelds Aluminium Armchair.

“Pressed and stamped aluminium contruction. This chair was probably inspired by military aircraft seats. Constructed from a bent, single sheet of stamped aluminium, the design pushed the materials technical and aesthetic limits further than ever before.” ( )

The original prototype was built from the aluminium wing of an English airplane that crashed in the 1940’s . Gerrit Oorthuis told me that the one now lost in delft was one of three replica’s made by Rietveld in the 60’s. The original poroype is damaged and probably stored in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. He thinks the relation with airplane-seats is not very likely since Rietveld used the techniques for this chair on many different materials before.

This chair has not been Rietvelds only superuse product design, showing that beauty can rise from destruction: Just before finishing the Rietveld Schröder house in Utrecht a military – yes again- vehicle exploded in front of the house. breaking a big pane of glass. Rietveld found some beautiful shaped curved cuts and used two peieces of glass as shelves in the bathroom. Herman Hertzberger once showed the shelf in a lecture, unfortunately we’ve not been able to trace the image yet.

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Toon Verberg

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