Meet the designer – Gerrit Thomas Rietveld
This is the first blog in a series in which we will highlight popular designers and their work.
Often times we know them from the icons (such as Gerrit Rietveld’s Red and Blue chair), but sometimes we forget the wealth of their work. For example, in the case of Gerrit Rietveld, his work as an architect and his Rietveld Schröder House in Utrecht, that was commissioned by Ms Truus Schröder-Schräder.
Here is some additional important info about Gerard Thomas Rietveld.
Rietveld was born in Utrecht in 1888 as the son of a joiner. He left school at 11 to be apprenticed to his father and enrolled at night school before working as a draughtsman for C. J. Begeer, a jeweller in Utrecht, from 1906 to 1911. By the time he opened his own furniture workshop in 1917, Rietveld had taught himself drawing, painting and model-making. He afterwards set up in business as a cabinet-maker. Rietveld designed his famous Red and Blue Chair in 1917.
Hoping that much of his furniture would eventually be mass-produced rather than handcrafted, Rietveld aimed for simplicity in construction. In 1918, he started his own furniture factory, and changed the chair’s colours after becoming influenced by the ‘De Stijl’ movement, of which he became a member in 1919, the same year in which he became an architect.
Rietveld broke with ‘De Stijl’ in 1928 and became associated with a more functionalist style of architecture, known as either Nieuwe Zakelijkheid or Nieuwe Bouwen. The same year he joined the Congrès Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne. From the late 1920s he was concerned with social housing, inexpensive production methods, new materials, prefabrication and standardisation. In 1927 he was already experimenting with prefabricated concrete slabs, a very unusual material at that time. In the 1920s and 1930s, however, all his commissions came from private individuals, and it was not until the 1950s that he was able to put his progressive ideas about social housing into practice, in projects in Utrecht and Reeuwijk.
You can read more about this designer in Wikipedia