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Gerrit Rietveld

24-06-1888 - 25-06-1964

Gerrit Thomas Rietveld (1888-1964) is one of the most highly esteemed Dutch architects and furniture designers. His views of functionality, form and space are optimally expressed in his design for the Rietveld-Schröderhuis in Utrecht (1924).

Rietveld learns the craft of cabinet-making in his father’s workshop. Next, he spends a brief time as a designer for a jeweller. Between 1906 and 1911 he takes courses in architectural drawing with P. Houtzagers in Utrecht among others. In 1911 Rietveld sets up as a cabinet-maker and also takes evening classes in architecture with P.J.C. Klaarhamer. During this time, he gets to know Rob van 't Hoff, Bart van der Leck, Theo van Doesburg and others who will later go on to form the avant-garde artistic movement De Stijl. Rietveld joins this group in 1919.

In 1919, Rietveld sets up as an independent architect in Utrecht. From 1921 he collaborates with interior designer Truus Schröder-Schräder. They design the Schröderhuis in Utrecht (1924), in which the ideas of De Stijl on functionality, form and space come to fruition. In the ‘20s, Rietveld also works with Theo van Doesburg and Cornelis van Eesteren now and then.

When De Stijl is disbanded in 1931, it also signals the beginning of a difficult few years for Rietveld. His designs for artisanal dwellings are not implemented, and modern architecture is being overwhelmed by a ‘national style’ with traditional leanings. Rietveld will not receive the acclaim he deserves until 1955.

Besides designing furniture, Rietveld primarily creates private dwellings such as the houses on the Erasmuslaan in Utrecht (1934), as well as buildings for culture and education. He designs the sculpture pavilion in Park Sonsbeek (Arnhem, 1954), the Dutch pavilion for the World’s Fair of 1958 in Brussels, exhibition space De Zonnehof (Amersfoort, 1958), the academy of the Hogeschool voor de Beeldende Kunsten in Arnhem (1963) and the Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam (1967).

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