Rietveld's Chair

The first volume in the Premsela Design Stories series tells the story of Gerrit Rietveld’s red-and-blue chair, as uncovered by art historian Marijke Kuper, who undertook to find out how the modernist icon was born and how it was viewed and used in its day. Lex Reitsma designed Rietveld’s Chair and directed the documentary DVD that accompanies the book. Rietveld’s Chair is a joint production of Premsela and nai010 publishers.

The furniture designer and architect Gerrit Rietveld’s iconic De Stijl chair was officially made part of the Dutch design canon in 2006. It resides in important museum collections around the world. But its full story has never been told until now. Where could it be seen in its day? Who sat in it? And what did museums think of it?

Rietveld’s Chair provides copious new information and illustrations and an overview of all known existing examples of the piece. In Reitsma’s documentary, the furniture restorer Jurjen Creman reconstructs the lost first version of the chair. With the help of family snapshots and letters, professor Erik A. de Jong recalls how his grandparents used their Rietveld furniture in the 1920s. Sharply contrasting images of auctions and art dealers show how the chair has lost its original function today and acquired an iconic value expressed in astronomical prices.

Marijke Kuper, who died in 2011, was an art historian specialising in 20th-century design and architecture. She was an independent international expert on the life and work of the Dutch architect and designer Gerrit Rietveld. Lex Reitsma is a graphic designer and filmmaker.

Premsela Design Stories
Rietveld's Chair is the first volume in the Premsela Design Stories series, in which Premsela and nai010 publishers tell tales from Dutch design history. Each book centres on an iconic object that is characteristic of a particular period and has played an important role in design’s evolution. A second printing of Rietveld's Chair will be introduced at the launch of a new Premsela Design Stories volume, The Style of the Stedelijk, on Friday 28 September at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.

The red-and-blue chair, reconstructed. Photo: Michel Claus.
Rietveld's Chair

Author: Marijke Kuper
Director and designer: Lex Reitsma
Language: Dutch/English
Cover price: €19.95
Available from: bookshops including NAi Booksellers