JJ Pieter Oud, armchair 03, 1933
The new collection – Museum of Applied Arts, Munich
Dutch architect and designer Jacobus Johannes Pieter Oud was co-founder of the influential De Stijl group and Rotterdam’s city architect. Oud was not only one of the most important pioneers of modernism and functionalism in the Netherlands, but also received great international recognition.
In the early 1930s, the progressive department store Metz & Co in Amsterdam commissioned artists and architects – including J.J.P. Oud – with the design of modern furniture. Oud’s first four designs were presented in a small exhibition entitled “Het stalen meubel 1934” that opened in December 1933 in the department store’s new domed hall, designed by Gerrit Thomas Rietveld. Up to now Oud had only designed furniture for the clients of his respective buildings, but these tubular steel chairs are his first series-produced furniture. As avant-garde and modern as this first small collection from Metz was, the sales that could be achieved were just as small. But at least Metz managed to attract international attention – Philip Johnson, then curator at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, suggested the production of tubular steel furniture Ouds in America, which was just as unsuccessful as the acquisition of a copy by MOMA .
Model 03, intended as an office chair, impresses with its unusual construction of the cross-shaped chair legs. With his designs for tubular steel furniture, Oud was not only concerned with creating modern and comfortable furniture, but also furniture that, as room-constituting elements, represented an equivalent to the rooms of the New Building.
Due to the small number of editions, the tubular steel chairs by Oud for Metz are among the extremely rare examples of Dutch modernism. As late as 1990, page 98 of the exhibition catalog of the Boijman’s-van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam states: “… Of all these variants, nothing has survived except for a few old photos and the drawings that have been preserved.”
dr Joseph Strasser
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1890-1963), Armchair 03, 1933. Manufacturer: Metz & Co, Amsterdam. Chrome-plated tubular steel, white leather. H 70 cm, W 53 cm, D 68.6 cm.
© The new collection – Museum for Applied Arts, Munich