In the design and fashion worlds, boldly combining large planes of plain primary colours with black and white — an effect often described as ‘Mondrian-esque’ — has long held a strong appeal. Take Yves Saint Laurent’s 1965 Mondrian shift dresses, inspired by the abstract paintings of Piet Mondrian, or, more recently, Vladimír Ambroz’s Moving Mondrian bookcase for Amosdesign.
Homage to Mondrian by Shiro Kuramata: Cappellini
Yet the roots of this iconic aesthetic are complex — they originate in the avant-garde Cubist-inspired, Dutch art and architecture movement, De Stijl (also called neoplasticism), which espoused radical abstraction, typified by vertical, horizontal and diagonal geometric forms in a restricted palette. It was founded in Amsterdam in 1917 by artist Theo van Doesburg. Other members included artists Mondrian, Vilmos Huszár and Bart van der Leck and architects Gerrit Rietveld and JJP Oud.
De Stijl table by Eileen Gray, Rexite Contrattempo clock by Raul Barbieri, Red and Blue Gerrit T Rietveld chair by Cassina: Aram
This year sees a Netherlands-wide celebration of its centenary, entitled Mondrian to Dutch Design — 100 Years of De Stijl. The Hague’s Gemeentemuseum is mounting three exhibitions — one on Mondrian and van der Leck, another on De Stijl architecture and interior design and a third on Mondrian, featuring over 300 of his works. Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum will examine the movement’s links with work by other artists and the Kunsthal KAdE gallery in Amersfoot De Stijl’s use of colour. We’re thrilled that all three will be selling our Paul Smith Edition Three desk lamp, whose different hues deliberately echo De Stijl’s clean, graphic palette. ‘For the Edition Three, I took inspiration from Mondrian and used accent colours of white, red, yellow and blue,’ Smith explains.
My Art Mug Piet by Janson + Co: Aria | Monde Riant sticky note block by Assia Quétin & Catherine Denoyelle: PA Design
The most famous example of original De Stijl design is Rietveld’s Red and Blue chair of 1917, still produced today by Cassina. So seductive is De Stijl’s design language that there’s no shortage of other pieces, from the large to the dinky, that pay tribute to it, including Eileen Gray’s De Stijl side table, Shiro Kuramata’s Homage to Mondrian cabinet for Cappellini, Jansen & Co’s Piet mug, Raul Barbieri’s Contrattempo clock and the idiosyncratic Monde Riant Post-it note-holder, created by Assia Quétin and Catherine Denoyelle for PA Design.
De Stijl, it seems, never goes out of style.
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