Contemporary Rietveld Utrecht Chair at Christie’s

Rietveld Utrecht Chair

Photo thanks to Christie’s
Italian manufacurer Cassina claims:

Advertising announcement appeared in the “Corriere della Sera” published on 16th March 1972: The text quotes:

“Cassina S.p.A. announces that it has purchased the exclusive reproduction rights for all furniture and objects by Rietveld and by his heirs, resident in Amsterdam. Gerrit T. Rietveld is one of the most significant members of the ”DE STIJL”, the artistic movement born in Holland around 1920 which has given this century ‘s greatest Dutch contribution to figurative art, architecture and design. His work has deeply influenced the european artistic language by setting an original syntax of forms, materials and space”.

This advertising announcement was the crowning point of the complex but pleasant negotiations between Cassina – or more precisely, the Cassina family – and the Rietveld family who were represented at the time by the oldest daughter, Elisabeth, who was assisted by her husband, Dr. Eskes.

The agreement for the purchase of the reproduction rights was consequently signed by the two parties at the Eskes-Rietveld home in Amsterdam, in September 1971, and it is still in force. The necessary consultancy for the initial reconstruction work of the two pieces of furniture under production, the Zig-Zag chair and Red and Blue armchair, in addition to the graphic design of communication instruments, was supplied by Daniele Baroni. The first prototypes were realized at Cassina’s Centro Ricerche e Sviluppo together with G.A. van de Groenekan, Rietveld’s close collaborator. This permitted an interesting comparison between the original construction techniques and the technological know-how of Cassina’s wood craftsmen.

The construction method was later enriched, with Filippo Alison’s help, from the comparison between two different cultures, both of which are involved in the realization of the same objective: the realization, using present day materials and technologies, of design ideas dating back to 1927 through 1935.

The production of the Utrecht model, armchair and sofa designed in 1935, has been started in 1988, to celebrate the centenary of Rietveld’s birth.

Two of these chairs were in auction at Christie’s Amsterdam today.

I am a bit confused as these chair seems very much the same design as th Metz & Co desing of my prior post.

Luckily the firm Design Matcher which has its seat in The Hague (where I live) sheds some light here:

The Utrecht chair was Rietveld’s first upholstered furniture design. Probably he made the chair because the customers of Metz & Co and his own private principals had a need for easy chairs.
The chair was presented by Metz & Co for the first time in the flyer of 1937 with the number R.31 and was lined up in the show house ‘the new home’ in 1937 in The Hague (nr. 267). A 3-seater could be supplied based on this model. After the war the chair was again taken in production by Metz. In a flyer of Metz from 1963 an arm chair, 2-seater and a 3-seater are offered with woolen upholster. The round version, which now is made by Cassina has never been produced by Metz (design date 1936, produced from 1986).

They also point out Rietveld’s clever design idea of the 90 degree angle between the seat and the back and the 90 degree angle between the arm rests and the front legs.

Last edited by gje on October 17, 2010 at 12:18 AM

Rietveld Easy Chairs for Metz & Co

Rietveld Easy Chairs for Metz & Co

Photo thanks to Christie’s

Metz & Co is a still existing luxury shop in Amsterdam. They do mainly fashion, but apparently they also sell Cassina and Knoll furniture. Proudly they mention in their history (abbreviated):

  • 1740 Founding of Metz & Co by Mozes Samuels.
  • 1815 The designation ‘Purveyor to the Royal Household’ was instituted in 1815 by King William I. The Queen may grant businesses the right to display the royal coat of arms with the legend By Royal Warrant Purveyor to the Royal Household’.
  • 1890 The 150th birthday celebration in a complete new building the former head office of the New York Life Insurance Company in the Leidsestraat where the company is still located.
  • 1930 Gerrit T. Rietveld created his famous cupola on the roof of the Metz-building and created a furniture collections still to be found in museums over the world and in the present collection of the company.
    In that period Metz became famous for its designs by Gerrit Rietveld, Bart van der Leck, Sonia Delauny and Alvar Aalto.

Christie’s: In 1972 Rietveld designed these Easy Chairs for Metz & Co. However other sources claim the design being from 1936, so there seems a slight error here.

Today they were auctioned at Christie’s in Amsterdam.

I find this a stunning design which so to see also offers some comfort.

Update. Another name for the chair is Utrecht Chair.

Rietveld Crate Easy Chairs at Christie’s Amsterdam

Rietveld Crate Easy Chairs at Christie’s Amsterdam

Gerrit Rietveld made these Crate Easy Chairs for his daughter in 1945 and today they were auctioned at Christie’s Amsterdam.

Rietveld Steel Chair at Christie’s Amsterdam

Rietveld Steel Chair at Christie’s Amsterdam

Photo thanks to Christie’s

On May 23rd, 2007 this 1927 Rietveld Steel Chair was also auctioned at Christie’s Amsterdam.

It shows that not only Mart Stam was involved in applying steel rods to chairs, but here the rods were solid as opposed to the hollow tubes Mart applied. The use of plywood was also very innovating in those days.

White Rietveld Red Blue Chair record at Christies Amsterdam

White Rietveld Red Blue Chair record at Christies Amsterdam

Photo thanks to Christie’s

Not many people will know (at least I didn’t know) that before Dutch Chair Designer Gerrit Rietveld painted the Red Blue Rietveld Chair red and blue, inspired as he then must have been by Piet Mondriaan, another member of De Stijl Groep (pronounce as:”the Style Group”) he made several mono colored ones.

Today this white lacquered example has been sold at a Christie’s auction in Amsterdam for a record amount of Euro 264,000, while Christie’s estimate was between Euro 50,000 and 80,000. Please do not forget the extras for Christie’s on top of that amount!,

As I find Christie’s lot note very interesting I will quote it here entirely:

The present chair was designed by Gerrit Th. Rietveld as a special commission for Til Brugman in 1923. De Stijl painter Vilmos Huszar restyled the interior of her house in The Hague using the furniture of his fellow De Stijl member Gerrit Rietveld to complement the interior. In the room a multi-colored end table by Gerrit Th. Rietveld was also included, which was sold on the 16th of November 2004 in these rooms.

The first examples of the Red-Blue chair were constructed of unpainted wood. After Rietveld joined De Stijl the first painted examples of the chair were created. It was not until 1923, the same year that this white version for Til Brugman was executed, that the first example with red and blue was completed. The use of primary colors on the Red-Blue chair was probably inspired by Theo van Doesburg and Vilmos Huszár.

Til Brugman was the first Dutch lesbian avant-garde author, who wrote novels and Dadaistic poems. She became acquainted with many of De Stijl artist through her friend Piet Mondriaan. Although her artistic contributions to De Stijl are minimal, behind the scenes her assistance was more substantial; she mediated in the sales of works of art for (amongst others) Piet Mondriaan and translated many articles for the magazine De Stijl. In some of her novels events from her life with members of De Stijl can be discovered.

On contemporary photographs of her interior can be seen how much the interior was modernized by the restyling of Vilmos Huszár. This chair was thought to be lost, but was recovered from the property of a private collector.

Update August 8, 2008:
Christies changed its lay out in the meantime. The chair UK pnd 264,000 (= US $ 355,724).