Rietveld's chair for Gispen; Mondial

part 3 - The designers



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. 



Gerrit Rietveld: major influence

Gerrit Thomas Rietveld is regarded internationally as one of the great innovative furniture and interior designers of the 20th century. Although his total oeuvre includes more than 200 designs for buildings, as an architect Rietveld is known above all for the Rietveld Schröder Huis (Rietveld Schröder House) in Utrecht, which he designed in 1924 according to the ideas of the De Stijl movement. At that time, thanks also to his famous Red/blue chair, Rietveld was known among the international avant-garde and his work had a major influence on his contemporaries.


A desire to achieve vividness

Both in architecture and in the designing of his furniture and interior designs, Rietveld sought to create space by sizing and defining and by endeavoring to achieve simplicity, thus discarding superfluous forms of ornamentation. ‘However we build’, said Rietveld, ‘it will only genuinely become reality for us and be able to give us pleasure if what we give to others but keep ourselves visually does not break up spaces, but is whole, vivid and above all clear’. His desire to achieve vividness, plainness and consistency of size applied both to the buildings and the furniture that he would design during his life.



Son Wim Rietveld

Wim Rietveld (1924-1985), the youngest son of the architect and furniture designer Gerrit Rietveld, is one of the pioneers of industrial design in the Netherlands. He became famous for the ‘furniture for the simple interior’ that he developed for Gispen together with André Cordemeijer. But Wim Rietveld also designed agricultural machines, boats, trains and domestic appliances. He saw himself not so much as a stylist but as an industrial designer. ‘Simply changing the form or the covering of the appliance is not Industrial Design’, Rietveld wrote in an article for the Winkler Prins encyclopedia of 1961. ‘The product must be improved in its entirety. And in its entirety means: function, form, price and colour’.


‘The product must not appear to be anything more (so not give the impression of being something else) than that for which it is intended and must have an industrial beauty’



Royal Academy of Art

Wim Rietveld completed technical school and after the war joined Servo Balans, a company that made weighing equipment, where he made his way up from apprentice draughtsman to become the head of the drawing office. In 1950, he started a three-year evening course in industrial design at the Koninklijke Academie in Den Haag (Royal Academy of Art in The Hague). He combined his studies with a full-time job in his father’s workshop, with whom he worked together for the first time in that period.

One of Wim Rietveld’s lecturers at the academy was W.H. Gispen, who in 1953 asked him to come to work at the company as a full-time designer as his successor. Rietveld worked with Gispen in developing office and household furniture. In his first year, he designed an adjustable lamp, an upright dining room chair, a settee, an armchair and a wall unit. In this early period, the designs were already being recommended as, in his own words: ‘good in form, solid, practical and inexpensive’.


Coming up next week: Part 4 - Icon

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