The Utrecht chair is a design of Dutch designer Gerrit Rietveld. And although the design dates back to 1935, this chair is still being used by interior designers all over the world for high-end projects.
Rietveld was born in 1888 in Utrecht, The Netherlands and was an influencial architect and furniture designer at the time. Rietveld studied the craft of traditional furniture making in his father’s workshop since age 11. He joined a night school to study drawing, painting and model-making.
Since he detested the heavy wood furniture which was so en-vogue at the time he set up shop in 1917 as a cabinet-maker. He tried to re-invent chairs and other furniture as if no one had ever built them before, resulting in designs with a simplicity in construction, hoping that his designs would one day be mass-produced. In 1918, Rietveld joined “De Stijl” movement, a Dutch group of designers and artists strongly influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright.
His most famous and iconic design is undoubtedly the Red and Blue chair, which he designed in 1918, and the Zig Zag chair designed in 1934. Although these designs were shocking at the time, to be honest I still do not like them that much. But I do like, very much, the Utrecht chair, designed by Rietveld in 1935. This chair is one of the few upholstered designs which was actually taken into production. And rightly so.
The Utrecht chair, with armrests that merge into the front legs, and with a seat and backrest that come together to form the back legs, is just simplicity in perfection. The chair was first taken into production in 1936 by Amsterdam-based Metz & Co, a re-seller of Dutch design avant-la-lettre. The first Utrecht chairs were upholstered in a brownish canvas with a festoon stitch along all the edges. After World War II Metz & Co took the chair back into production, this time with the distinctive felt, or boiled wool, upholstery and contrasting white festoon stitch.
Since 1988, one hundred years after Rietveld’s birthdate, the Utrecht chair was again re-issued by Italian design furniture brand Cassina where you can still get them today. But if you are looking for the real thing, you can get some beautiful vintage Utrecht chairs at 1stDibbs too.
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