Mondial Rijksmuseum Amsterdam


Rietveld's chair for Gispen; Mondial

part 2 -  The design



In 2006, Gispen was in business for ninety years. To mark this anniversary, Gispen, together with Rietveld by Rietveld, reissued the Mondial stoel (Mondial chair) on the market. Since we are almost 100 years old, we're looking back into our rich history. This time 2006 and 1958.


Quality versus design


Wim Rietveld, who worked at Gispen’s Fabriek voor Metaalbewerking N.V. as an industrial designer since 1953, succeeded W.H. Gispen (1890-1981), who had left the company in 1949. At Gispen, Rietveld introduced ‘furniture for the simple interior’, fully in keeping with the thinking of the ‘Stichting Goed Wonen’.

It was his idea to have the Mondial chair produced by Gispen.


Gispen made two prototypes of the Mondial chair with an aluminium moulded seat – one with armrests and one without armrests. Both prototypes were presented in May 1957 in the journal ‘Goed Wonen’, the monthly journal for home furnishings. In the description of the chairs, it was suggested that the aluminium back and seat could be sprayed with a material that did not lose heat so much, like plastic.


World’s Fair in Brussels


In June 1957, the Brussels World’s Fair Foundation 1958 Dutch section received a letter from Gispen saying that the chair could be made for a price of 35 guilders, but with the back and seat made of plastic, not aluminium. The Gispen management had decided to make the moulded seat entirely of polyester because this material would be more resistant to scratches. The argument of heat loss through aluminium may also have played a part in this decision. This modification took place against the wishes of father and son Rietveld. The conflict led to Wim Rietveld resigning from Gispen in June 1957. In the Rietveld archive of the NAI there are two sketches on transparency film from the period I which this modification took place.

The first sketch is not dated and says that the seat and the back can be made of an anodised aluminium or a plastic.

The second sketch is dated 27 June 1957 when the decision to make the moulded seat entirely of polyester had already been taken.

Mondial schets door Rietveld

A collector’s item


 Because the Mondial chair was in production for such a short period of time in an edition of just 250, very few of the chairs came onto the market, which is why it has become such a popular collector’s item.

After the World’s Fair, one of the five Mondial chairs was taken from the Dutch pavilion by a Dutch hostess. At some time this chair was painted orange. The chair was later given to an acquaintance and after that we do not know where it went.

The aluminium prototype without armrests was bought by the industrial designer Jan Jacobs, probably in 1974, at a staff sale at Gispen for ten guilders. The aluminium prototype with armrests was auctioned in 1998 by Wim Rietveld’s relatives at Christie’s Amsterdam and was sold to an unknown buyer for some 36,000 guilders.

Nederlands paviljoen 1958 Mondial stoel, Rietveld

Read: Part 3 - The designers

Latest posts