From April until the autumn of 2015, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam presents the original interior designs for the Sonneveld House (1929-1933), designed by architects J.A. Brinkman and L.C. van der Vlugt. These detailed design drawings very precisely define the use of colour. It is the first time that these drawings are shown in a museum.
The interior design drawings raise questions about the relationship between the use of colour and innovation in interior design. During the interwar period, architects, artists and painters were well aware of the interpretations of the colour theories of the poet and naturalist J.W. von Goethe (Zur Farbenlehre, 1810) and the chemist F.W. Ostwald (Die Farbenfibel, 1916). Their ideas on the relationship between red, yellow, blue and green, as well as their interaction with light and materials, spread through magazines and other publications. This way, these ideas also reached the architects and artists of De Stijl. Bart van der Leck, for example, published the theory of Ostwald in the De Stijl magazine and applied this knowledge in the colour designs of the upholstery for the firm Metz & Co. The chemical industry also had an impact on the use of colour during the interwar period, namely by assigning emotional significance to it. In so doing, colours were increasingly applied based on individual preferences..
Research on use of colour
The designs for the Sonneveld House show this layering within the interior: the brighter colours are from the collection of modern fabrics of the firm Metz & Co, based on the colours by Van der Leck. The architect Van der Vlugt introduced earthy colours and bronze walls for the living areas, and articulated each room with its own colour accent. At present, Het Nieuwe Instituut is conducting research into the design of the Sonneveld House and the different views on the use of colour by architects, artists, the chemical industry and firms like Metz & Co.
This loan is part of a long-term co-curatorship between Het Nieuwe Instituut and the Rijksmuseum in relation to the permanent presentation of the twentieth century at the Rijksmuseum, which features a new selection from the architecture archives of Het Nieuwe Instituut every three months. The Rijksmuseum is responsible for the preservation and restoration of these drawings. Earlier presentations featured works by Piet Blom, H. Th. Wijdeveld, G. Rietveld, Th. van Doesburg, and others.