Designer of the week: Gerrit Rietveld

Posted by Manhattan Home Design on Jan 15th 2019

The Dutch were always a very influential part of the Scandinavian Modern movement, if not the most important, as many would argue. From those influential designers, Gerrit Thomas Rietveld stands for his mastery, and for his simplicity. He’s primarily remembered for the Red and Blue chair, but also for his Rietveld Schröder House, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Having an architectural construction being named as basically one of the world’s wonders, one that’s recognized as worth preserving (even though all of them are), is a rare honor for a furniture designer (though not for architects, logically). Rietveld was both, like many of his colleagues, but today were focusing on his interior design legacy.

Early life and aspirations

Born in Utrecht, currently the fourth-largest city in the Netherlands, and a huge cultural center, Rietveld was the son of a joiner, a woodworker specialized in putting together various items (created by carpenters) to make things like cabinets, chairs, and even boats. He learned the trade from a young age while attending night school. The year was 1899.

Around 1906, Rietveld began working as a draughtsman, and became successful enough to open his own workshop about eleven years later. During this time, he taught himself to draw, paint, and build things, on top of what he had already learned from his father and his early jobs. The year was 1917, and he was 29 years old, when he produced the first prototype of the Red and Blue chair.

De Stijl

Rietveld’s reinterpretation of what is basically an abstract painting on the style of Piet Mondrian wasn’t made from a hunch or a shallow kind of inspiration. Rietveld became heavily associated with De Stijl, an artistic movement in Holland from which Mondrian, about 16 years his senior, was a renowned member. The essentialist manner of art that De Stijl was proposing would also heavily influence Rietveld’s work in turn, producing something truly remarkable.

In 1918, Rietveld started his own furniture factory and started working towards becoming an official, recognized member of De Stijl, something he achieved in 1919. He made a lot of friends and contacts, and even got to visit the Bauhaus and do an exhibition in 1923 (invited by Gropius himself). He’s currently considered one of the movement’s foremost representatives, especially in architecture.

Furniture works and legacy

The Red and Blue chair was actually born neutral, colorless, and simple. History tells us that it was effectively a great design, but that it didn’t have the inspiration we know it to have today. The actual primary-colored chair was a second prototype that Rietveld made once he became acquainted with Mondrian and his work.

But Rietveld’s work did not stop there (after all, there’s a reason why we’re including him in this series). He translated Mondrian’s abstract aspirations into furniture, creating a style of his own that focused heavily on basic geometric shapes and simplicity, something he would later abandon. Like most of his colleagues, he yearned for mass production and accessible furniture, and he attempted to bring together both his artistic vision and his practical mission.

Rietveld’s evolution can be seen through his 1923 Berlin chair, his 1926 Chair (which was as much as a return to form as it was a challenge to his own artistry), his 1927 Tubular chair (much more futuristic), and the 1932 Zig-zag chair (a playful modernist precursor). This is only a taste of his work, however, as Rietveld worked all of his life. He’s been licensed by Cassina and other major brands, but has become a brand unto himself, one that’s still very coveted on the chic circles of Amsterdam and Copenhagen.


A pre-order is manufactured just for you or is in the process of being manufactured and allows you to save 40% since we can cut out any storage and warehousing fees.
Our specialized team will start handcrafting it for you and deliver it in just 2-12 weeks. The lead time should show on the page next to the Pre-Order option, feel free to chat with us to confirm it. The standard in the furniture industry is over 20 weeks.
If you have any questions, our team will guide you through the ordering process.


The team was a pleasure to work with - customer service, workmanship, and quality are outstanding. 8 weeks lead time is actually fast for the furniture industry!
-Suzanne Palmer

Being able to customize the color of my furniture was key for us. We placed a custom order, got the colors we needed, and saved big compared to in-stock items. Great experience overall, 12 weeks was worth it!
-Richard Eaton


Custom-made items are put in production within 48 hours after the order is placed.
Pre-orders are not able to be returned or refunded based on buyer’s remorse.
The following terms will apply:

  • Full payment is required for pre-orders.
  • Order can be cancelled within 48 hours without fees.
  • After 48 hours, cancellations will require a 20% fee from the customer.
  • After two (2) weeks a pre-order is placed, the order cannot be canceled, and will have the full right to receive full payment for the order placed for the pre-order item.