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Gerrit Thomas Rietveld (1888 – 1964) was a self-taught Dutch designer and architect born in Utrecht, The Netherlands, who began self-producing furniture from his workshop in 1917 after serving as an apprentice in his father’s joinery factory for eight years.

As master craftsman he spearheaded new techniques in industrial fabrication; as designer – proved to be a vanguard of change as his furniture were a radical departure from the past; and as architect, a master in detailing, leaving a legacy that signals a new way of design thinking.

Early in his practice Rietvelt aligned with members of De Stigl (translating as ‘the style’), a group of Dutch artists who based their work on geometry, the movement also known as neoplasticism, was pioneered by Piet Mondrian and Theo van Doesburg.

With abstraction influencing Gerrit’s first and most famous work RED BLUE CHAIR (1917/18), combining flat geometric forms and industrial technique lead to the chair being regarded as a modern classic and a design. Joining the De Stigl movement in 1919, Rietveld went on to be revered as an avant garde for challenging notions of form and function, expressed through geometry and flat form.

TSA_GERRIT_REITVELD_CRATE_CHAIRAmsterdam luxury department store Metz & Co (1740 -2013) charged Rietveld in the 1930’s to create the now famous cupola that crowns the roof of the Metz Building. During that period he created furniture collections that have become world famous, works today found in permanent design collections in museums globally – including UTRECHT (1935) upholstered seating, ZIG ZAG CHAIRS (1934), and CRATE CHAIRS (1934).

Gerrit’s’ grandson Egbert Rietveld oversees RIETVELD ORGINALShelming licensing to CASSINA I MAESTRI, GISPIN and Veldhuijzen van Zanten, as well as producing original works such as the CRATE CHAIRS in contemporary flatpack versions.

Find the full list of Rietveld’s furniture archive here.

TSA__Cassina_Rietveld_Chair_pair_in_blueRIETVELD x CASSINA – I MAESTRI

CASSINA – I MAESTRI (MASTERS) is a collection of authorised reproductions of classics from Rietveld, alongside other famous designs by Le Corbusier, Charlotte Periand, Frank Lloyd Wright and Charles Rennie Mackintosh – each piece realised in direct collaboration with the designers’ foundation with faithful adherence to the original drawings.

Furniture is labeled, signed and each piece numbered accordingly.

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Red Blue Chair (1917 / 1923 / 1973) is Rietveld’s most famous furniture design.
One of the first explorations by the De Stijl art movement expressed in three dimensional form, it was originally constructed from unstained beech wood, the chairs not painted until circa 1923, and very few examples of the original series remain today.

The primary colours a tribute the Mondrian’s painting, with blocks of red, blue, yellow and black for the frame, representing different chair parts, each serving a specific function.

CASSINA MAESTRI officially produce contemporary versions of the chair, with the accompanying side table, re-issuing RED BLUE in 1973.

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ZIG ZAG exemplified industrial craftsmanship of the day, with the dove tail joinery retaining straight without additional supports. Original examples of his furniture are rare and accordingly command big dollars at auction. A pair of original 1938 ZIG ZAG chairs sold for $40,625 at Sothebys in 2008 – and CASSINA producing authorised re-issues of the world famous  setting.

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UTRECHT, the city Rietveld lived for his entire life – is also the name of the upholstered sofa series designed during his collaborations with METZ & Co, the series initially bearing the monicker of the commissioning patrons, and re-issued by Cassina in 1988 assuming the name of the the designer’s hometown.

UTRECHT (1935 / 1988 / 2015) armchairs and sofas – feature the curved three seat sofa (a personal favourite) and bear hallmark blanket stitching along the square junctions of the arms.

80 years on – CASSINA have announced a new addition to the collection – BABY UTRECHT – scaled to a 30% smaller version of the original, for kids aged 3-8 years old.

Images courtesy of Cassina, Zig Zag (1938) courtesy of Sothebys, Crate chair courtesy of Rietveld Originals