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I don’t hate studio furniture; in fact, most of it I find extremely attractive. But some of it, well, not so much.

For some reason, Gerrit Rietveld’s famous Red Blue Chair has popped up on two online forums I check regularly (one of which isn’t even woodworking-related). In both cases, those discussing the chair ooohed and aaaahed over how wonderful it is, and I’m clueless.

If you’re not familiar with the chair, just click on the link in the previous paragraph. In a nutshell, if you took a couple 2x4s and several 2x2s and hammered it all together in a roughly Adirondack shape – using no apparent joinery other than butt joints – then took two pieces of 1/2” plywood shaped sort of like a seat and nailed or screwed it to the chair shape, and then painted all the 2-by stuff black, paint one piece of plywood red, the other one blue, and the tips of all the 2-bys yellow, and you’ve got the Red Blue Chair.

It doesn’t look comfortable in any way. It appears to have been made in about five minutes. It doesn’t appear very sturdy. Oh yeah, and it’s ugly. Squint your eyes just right and all those colors and angles make it kinda look like Bizarro Superman.

This chair is so revered that a white-painted version sold in Amsterdam in 2007 for 264,000 Euros (about $384,000). I found a furniture company that sells a reproduction of it painted its true red-and-blue colors for about $975, and it’s still just made of plywood. Heck, I found a place online line that sells a poster of the chair for $20! If Rietveld had done something else in life of note, like cure cancer or invent a flying car, I can maybe see why a chair he once made on a rainy Saturday in his garage might have some value. Kind of like the way an empty Vienna sausage can once owned by Albert Einstein might fetch a few bucks on eBay. But value on its own merits, nope.

I love art museums. I love all types of art. I love modern art. I love the work of many studio furniture makers. But some of this stuff is just so far beyond my capabilities to comprehend as to why anyone would find it attractive/desirable/valuable, that it leaves me baffled as to why so many people think it’s so wonderful. The Red Blue Chair is a prime example.

Yeah, yeah; I guess I’m a heathen or simply an uneducated member of the unwashed masses. But I just don’t get it. Maybe someone can explain it to me.

Till next time,


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