I post this chair as a tribute to my father. This was one of his favorite chairs. You don’t need cushions for a comfortable seating. It kept you for hours uninterruptedly very comfortably, even when you are tall (I am 6’4, or 1.90 m). That is a sign of good design.
With his love of natural materials and his deep understanding of the need for furniture to be functional as well as beautiful, Hans J. Wegner (1914) made mid-century Danish design popular on an international scale. He began his career as a cabinetmaker in 1931 and subsequently entered the Copenhagen School of Arts & Crafts. After receiving his architectural degree in 1938, he worked as a designer in Arne Jacobsen and Erik MÃƒÂ¸lle’s architectural office before establishing his own office in 1943.
With more than 500 different chair designs Wegner is the most prolific Danish designer to date. His international breakthrough and greatest sales success came in 1949 when he designed the Round chair. The American magazine Interiors featured the chair on the cover and referred to it as the world’s most beautiful chair. The chair rose to stardom when used in the televised presidential debates between Nixon and Kennedy in 1960 and has since been known simply as The Chair.
The real beauty of Wegner’s genius must be seen in context with his collaboration with master cabinetmaker Johannes Hansen. The attitude with which Johannes Hansen accepted the young designe’s ideas was the perfect combination between designer and craftsman. Their collaboration went on for many years, and they presented their work at the Cabinetmaker’s show every year from 1941 – 1966.
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
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.