Gerrit Rietveld

ARCHITECT AND CRAFTSMAN

Gerrit Thomas Rietveld (June 24, 1888 in Utrecht – June 25, 1964 in Utrecht) was a Dutch architect and furniture designer. He also made graphic work, including posters and covers for magazines, including one for De Community in 1925. He is best known as a member of De Stijl and as a pioneer of new construction.
Youth and education
Between 1904 and 1908 he took evening classes with the architect Piet Klaarhamer and with the Art Industrial Education Association of the Utrecht Museum of Applied Arts in Utrecht. He was taught technical drawing, style and ornament by the director, architect P.J. Sawyers. In 1917 he opened his own furniture workshop at Adriaen van Ostadelaan 25

Wedding
On September 28, 1911, Rietveld married the nurse Vrouwgien Hadders. The couple had six children, four sons and two daughters, including the painter Bep Rietveld, the architect Jan Rietveld, the furniture designer Gerrit Rietveld Jr. and the designer Wim Rietveld. After he met Truus Schröder-Schräder in 1924, an interior designer and widow of a lawyer, who commissioned him to build a house for her family (later the Rietveld Schröder House), a lifelong intimate relationship developed with her and a fruitful cooperation in the field of architecture and home furnishings. From 1924 to 1933 his architectural firm was located in the Rietveld Schröder House.

De Stijl
Possibly through Klaarhamer, Rietveld became acquainted with modern designers such as Berlage and Frank Lloyd Wright. Around 1918, possibly under their influence, he began making experimental furniture, including the predecessor of the world-famous Red-Blue Chair, a colored slatted armchair. Although Rietveld himself emphatically saw the furniture as experiments – he is said to have designed the first Red-Blue chair for himself – his friend Robert van ‘t Hoff advised him to contact the magazine for modern art De Stijl, recently founded by Theo van Doesburg. . In July, Theo van Doesburg, the editor-in-chief, published a children’s chair by Rietveld in De Stijl and the slatted armchair followed in September.
Rietveld’s first experimental furniture was still unpainted. By also designing furniture for his six children and for the children of clients, he could afford more freedom. It was precisely this children’s furniture that he was the first to color. He had his high chair from 1918 painted green and fitted with red leather straps, while he provided his children’s wheelbarrow and handcart with the primary colors characteristic of De Stijl for the first time around 1923, followed not long afterwards by his Red-Blue chair.
His furniture was not only modern in appearance, but also cheap and easy to produce, so that the work of the executing craftsman was greatly facilitated. Yet Rietveld had no desire to change the taste of the common man. When architect and De Stijl member Oud furnished a model home in a housing complex he designed in Spangen with furniture by Rietveld in 1919,

Later he was part of the movement of Nieuwe Zakelijkheid. In 1919 he became an independent designer and furniture maker when he opened his company in Utrecht.
Rietveld designed the Rietveld Schröder House in 1924 in close collaboration with the only permanent resident of the house, the interior designer Truus Schröder-Schräder. The house is located on Prins Hendriklaan in Utrecht and, together with a house in the adjacent row of houses on Erasmuslaan, is part of the Centraal Museum.

A New Style

Het Nieuwe Bouwen
Around 1930 Rietveld joined the new building movement, the Dutch variant of the international style. In 1930-1932 he designed a row of workers’ houses in the Wiener Werkbundsiedlung in Vienna and in 1934, in collaboration with Truus Schröder, a row of houses on Erasmuslaan in Utrecht.
During the war, Rietveld continued to make designs illegally: he had not registered with the Kultuurkamer, and was therefore officially no longer allowed to practice his profession from 1942 onwards. That same year he designed a one-piece pressed plastic chair.
After a difficult time without much attention, De Stijl became popular again in the 1950s, and this provided Rietveld with work in the form of commissions for government buildings and housing, such as in the Kampen neighborhood in Rotterdam. In 1954 he worked with Constant Nieuwenhuijs on a design for a model home for the Bijenkorf department store. In 1955 Rietveld designed a color scheme for the cabin of the Fokker F27. In 1961, he founded the architectural firm Rietveld Van Dillen Van Tricht together with Joan van Dillen and Johan van Tricht.
Rietveld studied art history for some time with Willem Vogelsang at the Art History Institute in Utrecht and received an honorary doctorate from TH Delft in 1964.

GERRIT THOMAS RIETVELD

ARCHITECTURE (selection)
1924_Rietveld Schröderhuis, Utrecht
1932_Een muziekschool annex 2 appartementen te Zeist
1933_Villa Hildebrand, Blaricum
1936_Bioscoop Vreeburg, Utrecht
1938_verbouwing winkel Metz & Co aan de Keizersgracht Amsterdam;
1953-1954_ Rietveldpaviljoen (Venice), Nederlands paviljoen voor de Biënnale van Venetië, Giardini, Venice;
1954_Beeldenpaviljoen voor het park Sonsbeek te Arnhem (afgebroken, herbouwd in 1965 in Otterlo: Rietveld-paviljoen);
1953-1956_Julianahal van de Koninklijke Nederlandse Jaarbeurs in Utrecht
1954-1958_Textielfabriek Weverij de Ploeg in Bergeijk
1955-1956_Huis Visser, Bergeijk, later verbouwd door Aldo van Eyck, beschermd als rijksmonument;
1958_Nederlands paviljoen voor de Wereldtentoonstelling te Brussel
1958-1959_Tentoonstellingsgebouw Rietveldpaviljoen De Zonnehof te Amersfoort
1963_Academiegebouw, Hogeschool voor beeldende Kunsten, Arnhem
1965_De Hoeksteen, Uithoorn, Openbare bibliotheek sinds 1985, kerk Nederlands Hervormde Gemeente van 1965-1984
1967_De Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam
1973_Het Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam

Literature (selection)
– Nagtegaal, C., Tr. Schröder-Schräder, bewoonster van het Rietveld Schröderhuis, Utrecht 1987.
– Saam, H., Gerrit Rietveld en de Zonnehof, Amersfoort, 2001.
– Zijl, I. van, Rietveld In Utrecht, Utrecht, 2001.
– Geel, J. van, I love you, Rietveld. De geheime liefde tussen Gerrit Rietveld en Truus Schröder, Lebowski, 2018.

Collections
/ Centraal Museum, Utrecht
/ Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
/ Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam
/ Museum of Modern Art, New York
/ Museum Arnhem
/ Nationaal Glasmuseum, Leerdam
/ Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
/ Victoria and Albert Museum, Londen

WORKS

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