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Gerrit Rietveld: The Dutch Furniture Designer and Architect

Gerrit Rietveld Dutch Designer Header

Portrait of Gerrit Rietveld

Dutch architect and furniture designer, Gerrit Thomas Rietveld was born in the Netherlands smallest province, Ultrecht, in 1888. A carpenter’s son, Rietveld, spent his entire life and career there. He worked in his father’s workshop until he was 15, then worked as a draftsman before establishing a furniture workshop in 1917. The De Stijl movement influenced his earliest works. His first complete architectural project was the Rietveld-Schroder House, which manifested that movement. Its bold, geometric lines along with the red, blue, and yellow colors established Rietveld early as an architect to be reckoned with. The Sonneveld House was a later creation toward the end of his career that embodied the Nieuwe Bouwen movement, based on functionality and user need.

Rietveld’s popularity never ebbed during his career. Early in his career he created the simple red and blue chair reminiscent of the De Stijl movement that has become his hallmark. His furniture design is simple, much like his architectural designs. They are functional, artistic and aesthetically pleasing. Rietveld once remarked that he was “constantly concerned with this extraordinary idea of awakening the consciousness.” Schroder Schrader House in HollandHe felt his furniture design and his architecture allowed realistic comfort in relation to its space, color and form. His designs are meant to look hard to keep us alert to that awakening. But soft enough to feel at home and relax. Rietveld catered to that conscious awakening by creating architecture with a social consciousness. His designs were distinctive, purposefully simple, using newer materials, like prefabricated concrete slabs, and less expensive production methods. Prefabricated furniture began to turn up everywhere, his lean designs graced many an interior. His Red Blue chair is featured in purist design museum collections all over the world as is his Zig-Zag chair, a very minimal, reductionist design. Both are in use today for their clean lines and vibrant, geometric beauty.

His final project, the Van Gogh Museum, wasn’t completed before his death in 1964. Rietveld sketched the images, but his architectural partners, Van Dillen and Van Tricht, carried out the final work. His legacy, his lasting impression on new designers and architects, continues through the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, located in the Netherlands. Rietveld designed its present academic building in 1967. In 1968, it became the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, designated as an Academy for Fine Arts and Design.

For more information about Gerrit Rietveld and his work, please consult the following links:

  • Dining chair by Gerrit RietveldModernity Gallery: Rietveld Mini-Bio
  • Gerrit Thomas Rietveld Biography
  • About the Artist and His Furniture
  • The Red and Blue Chair
  • Rietveld Biography and Gallery
  • Gerrit Rietveld Academy History
  • The Schroder-Schrader House
  • The Van Gogh Museum Images
  • Great Architects: Gerrit Rietveld
  • Architecture's Eye Candy
  • Final Project: Van Gogh Museum Sketched
  • The Rietveld Collection Site
  • In Celebration Gerrit Rietveld's Life
  • The Zig-Zag Chair
  • Design's Odd Man Out
  • Rietveld's Universe: Great Architects
  • The De Stijl Movement
  • House Complete: Rietveld Schroderhuis
  • The Nieuwe Bouwen Movement
  • The Sonneveld House Museum
  • Rietveld: Border Patrol
  • Early Modernism: 1910-1935
  • Art Deco Design
  • Rietveld: Modern Furniture Classics
  • Netherland's Current Rietveld Schroderhuis Image
Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam

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