In 2008 this chair was donated as lose parts in a bag to the Centraal Museum of Utrecht, a Dutch museum with a large collection of Rietveld furniture. Although the design was known. It was believed this chair was never produced. Well until it was donated to the museum: It appeared a small Dutch manufacturer by the name of Hopmi had produced some pieces. Originally Hopmi produced locks for bikes, but in the prewar 30ies it ventured into furniture because of the economic depression. The chair can be taken apart and stored as a flatpack. Ikea avant la lettre.
I found this photo of the Witteveen High Chair (see also my post Design.nl: Two Dutch Musea Acquire Rietveld Baby Chair) on Dutch Design Double which contains an interview with Ingeborg de Roode, industrial design curator at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam (City Museum of Modern Art of Amsterdam) at the occasion of 2010 “Dutch Design Double”, two twinned exhibitions in Amsterdam and Utrecht (Centraal Museum), The netherlands each year.
About the Importance of Gerrit Rietveld’s designs in their collection I noted:
Our latest acquisition, a purchase we made in 2008 with the Centraal Museum and the support of different funding bodies: the Witteveen kinderstoel (Witteveen High Chair). The design from 1918 (just before the famous Red and Blue Chair) was a missing link in the Rietveld collection. Previously, we only knew about it from a black-and-white photo because the only existing example had been lost. It had crossed my mind: â€˜If we could only find a second example of itâ€¦â€™ It is very clear in this design how Rietveld was, at that time, on some sort of quest. As well as that, I like the small models that Rietveld made of chairs and buildings: all slotting together very simply.
Rietveldâ€˜s work forms one of the key elements of our collection. We have many highlights, such as the aforementioned Witteveen High Chair; an early Red and Blue Chair; the prototype of the Zig-Zag Chair; the Birza Chair, which is made from one sheet of fibreboard; the Harrenstein Bedroom; the Aluminium Chair; and the Steltman Chair.
Finally an interesting piece of information about Rietveld’s Aluminum Chairs:
On 22 October, the results of a research into the four known Aluminium chairs by Rietveld will be presented in the Stedelijk Museum. Three chairs belong to public collections, of which one is in the Stedelijk. And the fourth is from a private collection. With the aluminum armchair, Rietveld experimented with material in combination with form (for instance: holes that were meant to provide more sturdiness) and possible methods of production (industrial with the help of fibre board).
The Future Dutch Finance Minister Witteveen in the kids chair Rietveld made for him
By Editor Design.nl / 04-12-2008
The Centraal Museum in Utrecht and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam have jointly acquired the Gerrit Rietveld child-chair designed in 1918 and produced in 1921-22. The piece makes it possible to track Rietveld’s development towards the Red Blue Chair, an icon in Dutch art history, much more closely.
Gerrit Rietveld (Utrecht 1888-1964) is one of the major innovators of 20th century architecture and design. This child-seat is considered a key element in his oeuvre. Its shape and colour scheme precede the famous Red Blue Chair, which was also designed in 1918, but not painted in the well-known colours until 1923.
In 1919, Magazine De Stijl published the design of the child-seat. Rietveld gave an explanation of the colour-scheme (at the time green, light green and red) and the special construction qualities focussing on the experimental wood connections and dowels. He designed the featured seat for the first child of H.J. Schelling who was born in 1918. That chair is now lost.
No other furniture from this crucial period in Rietveldâ€™s development was known to still exist. Then in 2006, a second child-seat appeared at an auction. This chair was made for Hendrikus Johannes Witteveen, the future minister of Finance who was born in 1921. It is almost identical to the chair owned by the Schelling family. Only one picture of the chair, showing Witteveen as a child sitting in it, survives.
Considering the date of 1921, the seat gives us essential information about the development of Rietveldâ€™s use of colour in that period. He was experimenting with primary colours, which is of great importance for research into his early development. Few works from that period can be dated with such precision.
As far as it is known, this child-seat is the only piece of furniture left from this important period. During this time he lets go of the simple, closed shapes of his early works which were inspired by among others Frank Lloyd Wright and Berlage. Spatial quality becomes the essence of his revolutionary designs where he effortlessly connects to the avant-garde movement, De Stijl.
The chair is on display from today in the â€œ125 Great Lovesâ€ exhibition at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.