buegel stoel, gerrit rietveld, 1930
In 1927 Gerrit Rietveld (1888-1964) designed a chair made of just three pieces: two identical looped steel frames and a one piece seat and back of laminated wood (after attempts with fibreboard were too brittle). It was among the first pieces, by Rietveld, to be produced in quantity and sold through Metz & Co. (a forward thinking furniture store in Amsterdam, 1740-2013).
Many variations were made, with different back heights and angles, colours, metal coating, armrests, upholstery etc.
Then, in 1930, Rietveld experimented with a wooden-framed version. This model was also made in similar variations, this time for domestic projects and not for mass-production. Drawings of the high back version (see top image) read: ‘the height of the seat allows for the use of a cushion or rug’ and ‘preferably no armrests’ (The Complete Rietveld Furniture, Peter Vöge, 010 Publishers, Rotterdam, 1993).
Much like his later ‘Crate Furniture Series’ of 1934, Rietveld makes obvious the simple joining methods. The frames are screwed together, and the moulded seat is also screwed to the frame. The lollipop-stick-shaped legs suggest the potential of machine-made components and also refer to a playfulness that is in a lot of his designs… and standardised parts that can be used for other furniture. Rietveld returned to this motif in the mid 40s when designing this Child’s bed for Machteld and Anita Jesse in 1945. Although this is 15 years after his first use of “lollipop-sticks” it shows how Rietveld was able to go back to successful designs and adapt them for multiple pieces of furniture.
This DIY version of the chair has been made to the exact specifications of 1930 wooden-version by an unknown enthusiast and was sourced in the Netherlands. The chair has some age, great colour paint, pine frame and plywood seat/back. You can find it here available to hire.
The Complete Rietveld Furniture, Peter Vöge, 010 Publishers, Rotterdam, 1993
How to Construct Rietveld Furniture, Peter Drijver, Uitgeverij, Thoth, 2002