Gerrit Thomas Rietveld (Dutch pronunciation: [ËÉ£ÉrÉªt ËtoËmÉ's ËritfÉlt]; 24 June 1888 â" 25 June 1964) was a Dutch furniture designer and architect. One of the principal members of the Dutch artistic movement called De Stijl, Rietveld is famous for his Red and Blue Chair and for the Rietveld SchrÃ¶der House, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Rietveld was born in Utrecht in 1888 as the son of a joiner. He left school at 11 to be apprenticed to his father and enrolled at night school before working as a draughtsman for C. J. Begeer, a jeweller in Utrecht, from 1906 to 1911. By the time he opened his own furniture workshop in 1917, Rietveld had taught himself drawing, painting and model-making. He afterwards set up in business as a cabinet-maker.
Rietveld designed his famous Red and Blue Chair in 1917. Hoping that much of his furniture would eventually be mass-produced rather than handcrafted, Rietveld aimed for simplicity in construction. In 1918, he started his own furniture factory, and changed the chair's colours after becoming influenced by the 'De Stijl' movement, of which he became a member in 1919, the same year in which he became an architect. The contacts that he made at De Stijl gave him the opportunity to exhibit abroad as well. In 1923, Walter Gropius invited Rietveld to exhibit at the Bauhaus. He designed his first building, the Rietveld SchrÃ¶der House, in 1924, in close collaboration with the owner Truus SchrÃ¶der-SchrÃ¤der. Built in Utrecht on the Prins Hendriklaan 50, the house has a conventional ground floor, but is radical on the top floor, lacking fixed walls but instead relying on sliding walls to create and change living spaces. The design seems like a three-dimensional realization of a Mondrian painting. The house has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000. His involvement in the SchrÃ¶der House exerted a strong influence on Truus' daughter, Han SchrÃ¶der, who became one of the first female architects in the Netherlands.
Rietveld broke with 'De Stijl' in 1928 and became associated with a more functionalist style of architecture, known as either Nieuwe Zakelijkheid or Nieuwe Bouwen. The same year he joined the CongrÃ¨s Internationaux d'Architecture Moderne. From the late 1920s he was concerned with social housing, inexpensive production methods, new materials, prefabrication and standardisation. In 1927 he was already experimenting with prefabricated concrete slabs, a very unusual material at that time. In the 1920s and 1930s, however, all his commissions came from private individuals, and it was not until the 1950s that he was able to put his progressive ideas about social housing into practice, in projects in Utrecht and Reeuwijk.
Rietveld designed the Zig-Zag Chair in 1934 and started the design of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, which was finished after his death.
In 1951 Rietveld designed a retrospective exhibition about De Stijl which was held in Amsterdam, Venice and New York. Interest in his work revived as a result. In subsequent years he was given many prestigious commissions, including the Dutch pavilion for the Venice Biennale (1953), the art academies in Amsterdam and Arnhem, and the press room for the UNESCO building in Paris. Designed for the display of small sculptures at the Third International Sculpture Exhibition in Arnhemâs Sonsbeek Park in 1955, Rietveld's âSonsbeek Pavilionâ was rebuilt with new materials at the KrÃ¶ller-MÃ¼ller Museum in 2010. In order to handle all these projects, in 1961 Rietveld set up a partnership with the architects Johan Van Dillen and J. Van Tricht built hundreds of homes, many of them in the city of Utrecht.
His work was neglected when rationalism came into vogue, but he later benefited from a revival of the style of the 1920s thirty years later.
Rietveld had his first retrospective exhibition devoted to his architectural work at the Centraal Museum, Utrecht, in 1958. When the art academy in Amsterdam became part of the higher professional education system in 1968 and was given the status of an Academy for Fine Arts and Design, the name was changed to the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in honour of Rietveld. "Gerrit Rietveld: A Centenary Exhibition" at the Barry Friedman Gallery, New York, in 1988 was the first comprehensive presentation of the Dutch architect's original works ever held in the U.S. The highlight of a celebratory âRietveld Yearâ in Utrecht, the exhibition âRietveldâs Universeâ opened at the Centraal Museum and compared him and his work with famous contemporaries like Wright, Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe.
Two software tools, both for code review, have been named after Gerrit Rietveld: Gerrit and Rietveld.
- Rietveld SchrÃ¶der Archive A collection of the Centraal Museum (Utrecht)
- Rietveld furniture and archive in Centraal Museum, Utrecht, The Netherlands
- Rietvelds furniture designs that are still in production
- www.ModernFurnitureClassics.com Rietveld Bio
- Great Buildings Online
- Project by Gerrit Rietveld in architectureguide.nl