Gerrit Thomas Rietveld (1888-1964), furniture maker, designer, architect. Born in Utrecht, Rietveld became involved with De Stijl and the Nieuwe Bouwen before the Second World War, and he became known for his red-blue chair and the Rietveld Schröder house, where space and colour were very important. After the war he initially did not have many assignments and Sandberg included him in designing exhibitions. However, the exhibitions on De Stijl triggered a revival of these ideas.
Rietveld taught various courses such as the industrial design weekend course at the Academy of Art in The Hague. In addition to exhibitions, he also designed stands, various houses, the Dutch pavilion in Venice, a pavilion in Sonsbeek, the factory building of weaving mill De Ploeg, the academy buildings in Amsterdam and Arnhem, and the Van Gogh museum. As a furniture designer, he investigated mass products and chairs made out of one piece. The results included the foldable chair Mondial, which he produced with his son Wim for the Brussels World’s Fair in 1958.
In that year, the magazine Goed Wonen (‘Quality Living’) wrote: ‘We also know that Rietveld attempts to produce a manufactured product. He is thinking of metal and vulcanised fibres. He knows that it’s no longer possible with the old practices. He knows that, in order to get to a mass-produced article, new materials with different and simple assembly methods need to be found. He tries. Often it is not quite right, it is unstable or it does not sit comfortably. He keeps on trying.’ [no. 11, p. 134] Rietveld also designed two armchairs for Artifort.
He received the Sikkens prize in 1959, in addition to an honorary doctorate from the Delft University of Technology. Rietveld contributed to Goed Wonen, wrote about interaction between different art forms, and commented on his work in other magazines as well.
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:
– Küper, M., Zijl, I. van ‘Gerrit Th. Rietveld 1888-1964. Het volledige werk’, Utrecht (Centraal Museum) 1992.
– Rens, H. van (ed.) ‘Gerrit Rietveld. Teksten’, Utrecht/Baarn 1979.