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Buy Your Early Bird Ticket Now for Pioneers of the Dutch Modern House

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Posted 20 July 2021

Women’s Worlds - Interview with Natalie Dubois

Natalie Dubois. Photo Jan-Kees Steenman. 

Natalie Dubois is curator of applied art and design at the Centraal Museum Utrecht in the Netherlands. Among other things, she is responsible for the three Rietveld houses that are under the museum’s wing. Natalie studied art history at the University of Amsterdam (UVA) and New York University (NYU), and museology at the Reinwardt Academy (Amsterdam).

Tell us a bit about the video you are presenting at the online conference Pioneers of the Dutch Modern House.
It’s about the influence that women had on three specific iconic houses: a female architect and two clients with very particular ideas about how we should live.

What new insights did making the video lead to?
Although there are many differences in the architectural design of the three houses, interestingly the ideals behind them do not vary that much.

If you look at current home architecture, what form of living appeals to you most (or least)?
Less is more and so flexible housing very much appeals to me. Funnily enough, these were exactly the principles that Rietveld and Schröder already employed almost 100 years ago in building the Rietveld Schröder House in Utrecht. They built as they lived: with great consciousness and awareness.

Rietveld Schröderhuis (collectie Centraal Museum, Utrecht). Photo Stijn Poelstra 

What contemporary house would you most like to see in real life, and why?
Rokko Housing by Tadao Ando in Kobe, Japan. Maybe it’s not all that contemporary, as Ando built Rokko Housing One 40 years ago, in 1983. I love the way that the architecture cannot do without nature. Integrated into the steep hillside, the buildings are like a skyscraper without actually being one.

What do you think architects should remember when designing homes for this day and age?
We should build without waste and build flexibly. What we think is appropriate today can very quickly become outdated, so it’s important to make homes as adaptable as possible for the future.

Outside of the Rietveld Schröder House, what favourite 20th-century house can you not wait to visit?
That’s a really difficult question as my wish list is very long! I would love to see the Aalto House, the Eames House and the Kaufmann house by Neutra. But I guess top of my list must be Villa E-1027 by Eileen Gray. Because of the beautiful location, the view, and all the elements that played a role in the architectural plans. Like the Rietveld Schröder House, it’s an overall concept. Interior, exterior, furniture and nature all come together. It was built just shortly after the Rietveld Schröder House in 1926. And of course, it is extra fascinating to me because it was designed by a woman.

How do you think the pandemic has changed our homes and our attitudes towards them?
Now we work more from home, so our private and working lives have become much more intertwined. We have had to discover the flexibility of our own homes. And we have learned to create privacy in new ways.

Jane Szita

Curious about the Iconic Houses Online Event 2021?
Check out the program of lectures and a series of thematic videos about the Pioneers of the Dutch Modern House HERE.
Or register right away HERE.

Posted 20 July 2021