Wim Rietveld

Wim Rietveld (1924-1985), designer. Born in Utrecht as the son of Gerrit Rietveld, Wim Rietveld attended the ambachtsschool (‘crafsmanship school’) and got a job at Servo Balans, where he climbed up from being an apprentice constructor to becoming the head of the drawing department. He assisted his father and took the first weekend courses on industrial design at the Academy of Art in The Hague. He worked as a designer for Gispen from 1953 to 1956, where he expanded the office furniture collection with home furniture and lamps. Later he joined De Cirkel where he worked with Friso KramerFriso Kramer, and the company received the BKI prize in 1961. Wim Rietveld evolved into a freelance designer for many different industries, such as Vicon (agricultural machines), Inventum (household appliances), Ahrend (recommendations on colour), and Werkspoor (city buses, trains and subways).
In a video for the Stedelijk Museum (1983), he comments on his own methods: ‘Our profession, industrial design, really consist of two stages: first you have to work on the constructions, those difficult, technical aspects, of course with the direction that you want to work towards in the back of your mind. But once all these things are resolved, you can regard design separately from all the hard technical facts, and then it becomes easy to determine the dimensions and proportions since you don’t have to think about things like: can I do that, is that any good, is it inexpensive enough, and so on.’ He periodically taught in The Hague and at Delft University from 1961 to 1975, where he was an extraordinary professor from 1973 to 1979.

The Dutch version of this biography is taken from the book Visies op vormgeving, het Nederlandse ontwerpen in teksten deel 2: 1940-2000 (2008) by Frederike Huygen. The following sources have been used for this biography:
– Balkema, J. ‘Verslag van een gesprek met W. Rietveld bij Vicon’, 7 september 1966, archief IIV/RKD.
– Huygen, F. ‘Goed van vorm, solide en goedkoop. Het werk van Willem Rietveld’, Items 4 (1985) 16, pp. 10-17. Typescript interview 20 February 1985.
– cat. Holland in vorm 1945-1987, Den Haag 1987.
– Hinte, E. van ‘Wim Rietveld industrieel ontwerper’, Rotterdam 1996.