Artifort, formerly Wagemans & Van Tuinen, furniture company from Maastricht. The family business started in 1890 as an upholstery shop and from 1928 they produced classical furniture under the name of Artifort, aswell as mattresses (Epeda). Harry Wagemans, who became the director in 1945, modernised the production with technical illustrator/furniture maker Theo Ruth. The first results of their new policy were the Congo chair in 1952 and the production of Swedish furniture by Dux. When Kho Liang Ie joined in 1958, the company started to follow a design policy. Until his death in 1975, he gave advice on the product range, the choice of designers and the overall presentation. Kho renovated the showroom, made fair presentations and asked Harry Sierman to design the logo and catalogues. Based on Kho’s advice, designers such as Pierre Paulin (from 1958 to 1979) and Geoffrey Harcourt (from 1962) started working for the company. During the 1960s, Artifort developed into a leading international company producing seats and contract furniture. ‘Kho was the wise man from the East who said what was right and what was wrong’, Wagemans recalled in 1986. Leen Averink designed a new logo and house style in 1969-70.
The death of Kho and the economic crisis left a vacuum and the company collapsed. A number of experiments with Gijs Bakker, Bruno Ninaber van Eyben and Hans Ebbing/Paul Schudel turned out not to be viable. However, Nel Verschuuren’s Lagos sofa was successful nevertheless. Henri-Jean Wagemans became the director in 1980 and the focus shifted towards the contract market.
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:
– an. ‘Industriële vormgeving in de praktijk. Het woord is aan: Wagemans & v. Tuinen te Maastricht’, Economische Voorlichting 52′(1958), 5, pp. 16-17.
– Huygen, F., Kreyfelt, M. von ‘Artifort. De nieuwe koers van een oud bedrijf’, Items 5 (1986) 20, pp. 14-21.
– Jamin, E., Schwencke, L., Weijnen, S. ‘Artifort’, Rotterdam 1990.