art magazine from the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

Country battle: Dutch design versus China design

in Country battle on 28 November, 2023

Let’s compare Dutch design with China design

The design movements in the Netherlands and China boast distinct characteristics rooted in their cultural, historical, and artistic evolution. So Dutchie delved into the differences between both countries in the field of design and specifically masters in painting, architectural styles, ceramics and interior design. What are the differences or similarities? In what design areas is a country stronger in terms of traditions or innovations? What do you think?

Masters in Painting:

  • Netherlands: The Dutch Golden Age (17th century) produced renowned painters like Rembrandt van Rijn and Johannes Vermeer. Their works often focused on realism, light, and everyday life, exemplified by Vermeer’s intimate scenes and Rembrandt’s masterful use of chiaroscuro. Rembrandt‘s technical prowess and ability to capture human expression are evident in his iconic works like “The Night Watch,” “The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp,” and “The Jewish Bride.” His use of chiaroscuro, a technique playing with light and darkness, created dramatic depth and emotion in his paintings. Vermeer is renowned for his exquisite treatment of light and his ability to capture intimate domestic scenes. His masterpieces like “Girl with a Pearl Earring” and “The Milkmaid” demonstrate his exceptional skill in portraying everyday life with remarkable detail and luminosity. Vincent van Gogh is one of the most celebrated and influential figures in the history of art. Born in 1853 in the Netherlands, he is renowned for his emotionally charged and distinctive style, marked by bold colors, dramatic brushwork, and powerful emotional expression. Frans Hals was a portrait painter known for his loose brushwork and ability to capture the vitality and expressions of his subjects. His portraits, such as “The Laughing Cavalier” and “The Gypsy Girl,” are celebrated for their liveliness and naturalism.
  • China: Classical Chinese painting is steeped in tradition, emphasizing harmony, nature, and philosophical depth. Artists like Shen Zhou and Qi Baishi captured landscapes, figures, and calligraphy, employing ink washes and brushwork techniques to convey emotion and spirituality.

Architectural Styles:

  • Netherlands: Dutch architecture blends functionality with innovation. The Dutch Renaissance showcased ornate facades, while the Amsterdam School in the early 20th century embraced expressive brickwork and curved lines. While primarily an urban planner and architect, van Cornelis van Eesteren‘s ideas on functional city planning and modern architecture greatly influenced interior design trends. His concepts of functionality and efficient use of space had an impact on Dutch interior design. H.P. Berlage was an influential architect whose designs often extended to interior spaces. He embraced simplicity, functionality, and a rejection of excessive ornamentation, contributing to the principles of modern Dutch design.
  • China: Ancient Chinese architecture embodies symmetry, balance, and spiritual symbolism. Styles like Imperial, Buddhist, and traditional courtyard houses (Siheyuan) reflect harmony with nature, intricate detailing, and emphasis on spatial organization.


  • Netherlands: Delftware, famous for its blue-and-white pottery, emerged in the 17th century. It drew inspiration from Chinese porcelain but developed its own style, characterized by hand-painted scenes and intricate designs.
  • China: Chinese ceramics have an extensive history dating back thousands of years, with famous styles like celadon, blue-and-white porcelain, and the vibrant, multicolored wares of the Ming and Qing dynasties, showcasing exquisite craftsmanship and diverse techniques.

Interior Design:

  • Netherlands: Dutch interior design emphasizes minimalism, functionality, and natural light. The concept of gezelligheid (coziness) often influences spaces with warm, inviting atmospheres. Gerrit Rietveld was a pioneering figure in modernist design and architecture. He co-founded the De Stijl movement, famous for its use of geometric forms, primary colors, and abstraction. His iconic Red and Blue Chair remains an emblem of avant-garde design. You can walk through his famous Rietveld Schröderhuis.
  • China: Traditional Chinese interior design incorporates feng shui principles, balancing energy flow and aesthetics. Rich colors, intricate woodwork, and symbolic motifs like the use of lucky symbols or elements from nature are common.

Both countries have made significant contributions to the world of design, each with its own unique artistic expressions and influences that continue to inspire contemporary designers worldwide.

so dutchie oranje
So Dutchie

Categories: Country battle



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