20th century famous furniture designers – Gerrit Rietveld

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Continuing our rubric about the famous furniture designers, today we are featuring the work of Gerrit Rietveld. The Dutchman Gerrit Rietveld was one of the most important designers and architects of the 20th century.

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He was trained as a carpenter and was associated early on with the De Stijl movement and its central figures, Theo van Doesburg and Piet Mondrian. Beginning in 1918, his work reflects the artistic ideals of this group.

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Famous furniture designer Rietveld transformed objects and buildings into abstract compositions of lines and planes, mainly in black, white, grey and the primary colours yellow, red and blue.

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In the Rietveld chair or Red Blue Chair, the famous furniture designer manipulated rectilinear volumes and examined the interaction of vertical and horizontal planes, much as he did in his architecture. Although the chair was originally designed in 1918, its color scheme of primary colors (red, yellow, blue) plus black was applied to it around 1923. Hoping that much of his furniture would eventually be mass-produced rather than handcrafted, Rietveld aimed for simplicity in construction. The pieces of wood that comprise the Red Blue Chair are in the standard lumber sizes readily available at the time.

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Rietveld’s first architectural project, the now legendary Rietveld-Schröder House, followed in 1924. In search of ways to further develop his radical aesthetic ideas, Rietveld soon distanced himself from the aesthetics of De Stijl. Throughout the 1930s, he pursued experimental work, especially with innovative materials such as plywood and aluminium. One example of the unusual furnishings created out of these materials is the Zig-Zag Chair. After 1945, Rietveld was primarily active as an architect, designing prestigious buildings such as the Dutch Pavilion on the premises of the Venice Biennale.

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