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Theo van Doesburg

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Why Are Architects So Obsessed With Piet Mondrian?

09:30 - 1 April, 2018

In the 1920s, Dutch-born artist Piet Mondrian began painting his iconic black grids populated with shifting planes of primary colors. By moving beyond references to the world around him, his simplified language of lines and rectangles known as Neo Plasticism explored the dynamics of movement through color and form alone. Though his red, yellow and blue color-blocked canvases were important elements of the De Stijl movement in the early 1900s, almost a century later Mondrian’s abstractions still inspire architects across the globe.

But, what is it about these spatial explorations that have captivated artists and designers for so long?

7 Architects Who Weren't Afraid to Use Color

09:30 - 10 October, 2017
La Muralla Roja. Image © Gregori Civera
La Muralla Roja. Image © Gregori Civera

Some architects love color, some are unmoved by it, some hate it, and some love to dismiss it as too whimsical or non-serious for architecture. In an essay on the subject, Timothy Brittain-Catlin mentions the “innate puritanism among clients of architecture,” architects and their “embarrassment of confronting color,” and how “Modernism tried to ‘educate out’ bright colors.” So, while the debate on color in architecture is far from being a new one, it is not finished, and probably never will be. 

In today’s world where the exhausted stereotype of the no-nonsense architect clad in black still persists, and while we quietly mull over the strange pull of the Cosmic Latte, there are some architects who haven’t been afraid of using broad swathes of color in their work at all. Read on for a list of 7 such exemplary architects both from the past and the present.

Interior of Casa Gilardi. Image © <a href='https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ACasa_Liraldi_Luis_Barrag%C3%A1n.JPG'> Wikimedia user Ulises00</a> licensed under <a href=' https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_domain'>Public Domain</a> Casa Batlló. Image © <a href='https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Barcelona_Casa_Batll%C3%B3_DachterrasseKamine.jpg'>Wikimedia user M.Stallbaum</a> licensed under <a href='https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_domain'>Public Domain</a> St. Coletta School / Michael Graves. Image Courtesy of Michael Graves Café l'Aubette. Image © <a href='https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Strasbourg_Cin%C3%A9_Bal_de_l%27Aubette_janvier_2014-17.jpg'>Wikimedia user Claude Truong-Ngoc</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en'>CC BY-SA 3.0</a> + 20

AD Classics: Café l'Aubette / Theo van Doesburg

04:00 - 20 July, 2016
AD Classics: Café l'Aubette / Theo van Doesburg, Courtesy of Wikimedia user Claude Truong-Ngoc
Courtesy of Wikimedia user Claude Truong-Ngoc

Concealed behind an 18th century Baroque façade in Strasbourg’s Place Kléber, the Café L’Aubette is a dazzlingly incongruous expression of the 1920s De Stijl movement. Designed by Theo van Doesburg, one of the movement’s founders and leading lights, the Aubette’s minimalist, geometric aesthetic was heavily influenced by the work of contemporary artists such as Piet Mondrian. In designing the café’s interiors, Van Doesburg sought to do more than simply place viewers before a painting; he wanted to envelop them in it.