The Utrecht armchair by Gerrit Rietveld is one of the few objects left to mankind by this laconic and strange genius of Dutch design.
Gerrit Rietveld was a strange man: he built houses strange for their time, made strange furniture. He always worked alone – there is very little evidence of technical descriptions of his items (in total, about two dozen things are known about his design, although it can be assumed that there were more of them).
Dutch designer Gerrit Rietveld
As a member of the De Stijl group, he avoided involvement in public life. Rietveld was a self-taught commoner (of which he was sometimes shy), and he was most interested in the world of his own workshop.
Probably, it was precisely because of his restrained nature that Rietveld was never able to give his outstanding design wide publicity: he was not interested in doing promotions and introducing his items into mass production.
For a long time he was perceived as the author of two masterpieces – the Red Blue Chair and the famous Schroeder House, which he built for his beloved, who unconditionally supported all his endeavors.
However, Rietveld has a chair that saw the light of day and was loved during the life of the designer.
The design of this chair, as is often Rietveld’s, is geometric and intelligible: the back and seat are connected at right angles, and the entire chair is tilted back and rests on the connection between the chair and the back, as well as on the armrests-legs.
The first chair was designed in 1935, in the catalog of the Dutch company Metz & Co it was called R31. In 1937 he was presented at the New House exhibition in The Hague. At the same time, a three-seater sofa appeared, based on the design of this chair.
During the Second World War, production of the chair ceased. It only resumed in 1963. Then the company Metz & Co began to produce, along with the armchair, two-seater and three-seater sofas.
A new round of interest in this chair arose with its reprint in 1988 by the Italian company Cassina – at the same time it was renamed the Utrecht chair, after the name of the hometown of Rietveld. Since then, many limited textile versions have been produced, as well as children’s versions of this seat.