Rietveld Zig Zag Variation 2 – New Ladder Back by
In an interview with Stefano Catalani (SC) Garry (GBK) explains:
SC: Did you build all the Zigzag chairs? Or are some of them Garry Knox Bennett’s “readymades”?
GKB: I think any original Rietveld chair would be a pretty expensive proposition. I don’t even know anybody who’s manufacturing them. But it’s a very easy chair to construct. It’s unbelievably simple.
SC: A lot of dovetail joints…
GKB: Yeah, but I modified it. I think in most cases, my engineering is better… I mean, they put dovetails in that real hard angle; I don’t even know who could make that dovetail. But they did, and they support it with gussets. I never saw a real Rietveld, but in all the pictures I saw, they had nuts and bolts in them, or they had these gussets stuck in them or battens. Instead of dovetails I used a spline joint: I set up a jig for the table saw, and sawed through the wood. I think there’s anywhere from twelve to maybe fifteen splines across. Then I milled down a piece of wood that fits in that slot, glued it in there really good, then sanded it all down even.
SC: What kind of wood did you use for your Zigzag chairs?
GKB: Any wood that was available. The wood wasn’t important.
SC: Rietveld’s Zig-Zag chair design is a stark and minimal assertion of function and form: four planes in space, four straight lines in profile. Did you fall in love with its lines?
GKB: It’s such a simple form that it allows itself a lot of manipulation. It’s an easy form to build off visually and physically: color, or what you can stick on it, like the wings or the ladder, or the Mackintosh high back. If you want, make it into an armchair!
SC: The first two Zigzag chairs you made are Old Ladderback and New Ladderback —
GKB: Right, the Shaker Ladderback.
SC: You started off with the classic Shaker craftsman style, one of the earliest and most popular American designs —
GKB: I just didn’t want to make a Rietveld chair. I was going to do something with it.
And everything just happened from that.