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Van Nelle directiekamer   landscapem

Willem Hendrik Gispen

In 1916, Gispen was founded by Willem Hendrik Gispen. Often abbreviated to W.H. Gispen. Willem Hendrik Gispen lived from 1890 to 1981. He began his professional career teaching French in England. He then started studying Engineering at the Academy of Visual Arts and Technical Sciences. Gispen was someone who was always sketching and drawing, always carrying his sketchbook. He had the ability to put his ideas on paper in an instant. After completing his studies, he became a designer at a factory for decorative wrought iron in Rotterdam, also called an art forge. The entrepreneur in him was calling and in 1916 he took over the factory and renamed it the W.H. Gispen & Co Art Forge, located at the Voorhaven in Rotterdam.


The start of the GISO collection. GISO was created by Gispen & his first wife Anna Gisolf. Whenever Gispen added a lamp to the collection, he always kept the basic elements of the collection in the back of his mind. This allowed him to easily extend the collection while adding as few new components and production processes as possible. The GISO lamp collection made Gispen a direct competitor of Philips. Already a big name at the time as well.

Gispen GISO lampen brochure covers

Innovations from the past

Gispen has an impressive past when it comes to products that have taken a special place in the world of design, innovation, inspiration and sustainability. Each design was an innovative step at the time, referring to projects such as the Giso lighting or the ‘Goed Wonen’ period. This continued in office furniture products and also later with the introduction of office concepts.

Gispen 412 armchair in black and white front left view


Gispen is known for its classics. Designs such as 412, the Giso lamps and the President desk are paragons for innovation, design and quality. A selection of historical Gispen products are still produced authentically this day, in accordance with the original design and the authentic materials such as bakelite. The Gispen classics are for sale online and in several design stores.

Monumental examples

The Van Nelle Factory in Rotterdam and Gispen have been connected for 75 years. Designer W.H. Gispen furnished their head office together with architects Brinkman and Van der Vlugt.

Dubbele wachtbank

The dual waiting bench with heater was a sensational element in the headquarters of the Van Nelle Factory
Gispen special double bench for over radiator at Van Nelle Factory in Rotterdam left side view
Gispen Next special dining table with design chairs in Van Nelle Factory in Rotterdam

De ontwerpfabriek

Coordinated by Claessens Erdmann, the industrial past of the Van Nelle Factory was given a new look, that of a design factory. Again Gispen made a special contribution: the longest table in Holland, the 30 meter Catwalk.

Residence Sonneveld

Residence Sonneveld, a national monument under management of the NAi (Dutch Architecture Institute), represents the luxurious and comfortable version of ´het Nieuwe Bouwen´.

Gispen was the main furniture supplier. The furniture consisted primarily of tubular steel constructions such as the well-known Gispen arm chairs, tables and lamps, although Gispen also installed furniture that was specially designed for this residence. For instance, the dining room table with an integrated electrical telephone system. Gispen also created the gorgeous dressing table in the bedroom designed by Van der Vlugt.

Gispen interior view of livingroom of Sonneveld House in Rotterdam
Stichting Gispen Collectie   squarexl

Gispen Collection Foundation

The foundation was founded in 1996 and strives for maintaining, managing, expanding and presenting Gispen’s collection.

The Gispen Museum is an initiative of the Gispen Collection Foundation. Please visit the website from the Gispen Collection Foundation for more information on the rich history of Gispen in the form of products that have been manufactured by the company since 1923. Furnishing projects show you how these products are applied by Gispen in offices and in homes.

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