Gerrit Thomas Rietveld
Utrecht 1888 – 1964
Architect, furniture designer
Rare early crate chair designed by Gerrit Thomas Rietveld for Metz & Co, Holland 1940. This specific crate chair was made and produced ca 1940. Originally it was painted in Rietvelds primary colors red and yellow. Unfortunately the chair has been repainted in the 1960s to a sober light grey color. But who can blame the previous owners as Rietveld was a proponent of painting your furniture. This beautiful example has an amazing patina from years of usage but doesn’t have any damages that are unusual for a chair of 75 years old. The chair was checked by a team of specialists and also with our knowledge and comparison with other crate chairs we have seen had we can define this chair to be 100% original. There are a lot of replica crate chairs and it is a fact that most of the original ones have already dis appeared in the fireplace because most of these chairs were made for outside usage. The chairs that were used outdoor could have never survived 70 years of the Dutch rainy, cold and hot climate.
In 1934 Rietveld designed a first series of crate furniture, consisting of an armchair, a small bookcase and a small table. These were items for which the appearance was largely dictated by the application of standard lumber size planks for different parts of the furniture. The choice of using standardized industrial products was motivated by Rietveld’s aim to make furniture production more efficient. The furniture is almost completely built from firewood planks with a width of circa. 15 cm. A constantly recurring, distinctive wide chink is left between the planks. Dry joints connect the components with brass screws, which are left visible. At this time this type of wood and construction method was used for packing crates, hence the name of the series.
The radically simple crate furniture was heavily criticized by some contemporaries, because of the lack of traditional workmanship. Rietveld defended his designs by saying that traditionally-produced furniture was transported in crates to avoid being damaged. It was obvious to him that the packing material was stronger, and therefore better, than its content. After 1935 much more crate furniture followed, including various chairs, tables and stools. After producing them in his own name for a while, the crate furniture was sold by Metz and Co. under the name ‘weekend furniture’. Because of the simple appearance and the relatively low price they were most suitable for holiday homes.
Important literature: Gerrit Rietveld, Ida va Zijl, Phaidon 2010
Gerrit Th. Rietveld 1888-1964, Marijke Küper Ida van Zijl, Centraal Museum 1992
The complete Rietveld furniture, Peter Vöge, 010 publischers Rotterdam 1993