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Truus Schröder-Schräder leans her hands on the white zigzag chair. (photo©Lucien den Arend)
We had tea with Truus Schröder-Schräder, and sat at the table by the corner windows, both of which she had opened for us so there was no corner at all because of the cantilevered roof made a support at that point unnecessary. Even in our present time living in a house in which you can open a complete corner of a room without a support at the place where the two walls meet, is something special. But in 1924 this was extremely unusual - if not non-existent.
A pleasant surprise, which for some people would be a disappointment - in the Rietveld-Schröder House, was the table. It was constructed from planks rift- or flitch-sawn from an oak tree - the sap-wood layer layer (wane) still visible. The natural shape of the tree remained as pronounced as the grains of wood in the zigzag chairs are visible. Truus said "one day he came home with it and said it would be a 'good table for this spot'." And why not? He hadn't fitted her hands with orthogonal gloves either!
Later my friend Wim Smits, a designer/artist, told me that, when he was working for Gerrit Rietveld's on the Dutch pavilion in Brussels in 1958, Rietveld surprised him. Rietveld was initially selected to design the pavilion, but due to his not too well equipped office, the commission became a multiple one: van den Broek and Bakema, Joost Boks and later F.P.J. Peutz were invited to make it a joint project. When my friend Wim and colleagues were working on the interior and Gerrit Rietveld came to inspect the progress of his part in the project, there was some problem with the height of an exhibition wall with windows above it. The dimensions didn't work out. On being presented with the problem at hand, Rietveld remarked " then we'll just make it a little bit lower." This to me says that he was a very practical man, not letting himself to be hindered by any theoretical premises. In that sense he was an artist - or maybe a sculptor.