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Slat furniture

In 1919 Rietveld published a child’s highchair in The Style (De Stijl), which was predominantly built of small slats. In the accompanying text he explained his choice for simple dowel joints in the following way:

‘The normal mortise and tenon wood joint, in which the rail is inserted into the post, is still used for almost everything. While working it is also very pleasing to see, for example, mortise and tenon joints and grooves being used with a set of rails and posts. However when the furniture is assembled, nothing can be seen. This joint produces a flat surface that is not always intended. [Source: De Stijl, Volume 2, 1919, No. 9, page 102, attachment XVIII]

Rietveld chose a joint that would not obscure the individual construction components; instead it would allow them to be clearly expressed. The placing of the rails was also less constrained. Above all the dowel joint was faster to make and thus more efficient.

The highchair is one of the first of a series of slat furniture, of which the red-blue chair is probably the most famous. The volume of this furniture is solved visually by emphasizing the separation of each of the components. This is achieved by dry joints, by allowing uprights and rails to extend through the joints and by making the seat and backrest narrower than the supporting frame. Later, around 1923, components are also painted in contrasting colours.  

View the photos on Flickr.

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