Gerrit Rietveld 1888–1964

Gerrit Rietveld was a celebrated designer and architect, famous for bringing the principles of the De Stijl Movement to these disciplines. Rietveld was born in 1888 in Utrecht, Netherlands to a family of cabinetmakers and later studied drafting and architecture. Rietveld opened his own furniture studio in 1917 and soon after became involved with the De Stijl Movement. In 1918, he designed his now-famous Red Blue armchair, which was heralded as a distillation of the movement’s emphasis on geometry, primary colors and an objective language of forms. He regarded this chair, and others he would design, as “spatial creations,” rather than simply furniture. The Schröder House in Utrecht, designed by Rietveld in 1924, is regarded as the architectural embodiment of the ideals of De Stijl and his most important work. In 1928, Rietveld distanced himself from De Stijl and became concerned with the challenges of affordable housing. He was a visionary in designing prefabricated and standardized buildings, of which the architectural world would not consider more seriously until the 1950s. In the 1930s and 1940s, Rietveld largely worked on private commissions and designed enduring modernist icons such as the Crate chair and Zig Zag chair, both from 1934. His last major work before his death in 1964 was the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, which was completed in 1973.

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