Lot 149
  • 149

Gerrit Thomas Rietveld

20,000 - 30,000 USD
37,500 USD
bidding is closed


  • Gerrit Thomas Rietveld
  • "Zig Zag" Chair
  • signed Voor Jan van Beest/Gerard/1967 and branded H.G.M./G.A.v.d.GROENEKAN/DE BILT/NETHERLANDS
  • whitewashed elm
  • 32  5/8  x 20 x 23  3/8  in. (82.87 x 50.8 x 59.4 cm)


Acquired directly from the producer by the present owner, 1967


Daniele Baroni, The Furniture of Gerrit Thomas Rietveld, Woodbury, NY, 1977, p. 133
Gerrit Rietveld:  A Centenary Exhibition, Craftsman and Visionary, exh. cat., Barry Friedman Gallery, New York, 1988, p. 53
Marijke Küper and Ida van Zijl, Gerrit Th. Rietveld:  The Complete Works, Utrecht, 1992, p. 146 (for a related model with armrests)
Peter Vöge, The Complete Rietveld Furniture, Rotterdam, 1993, p. 87
Luca Dosi Delfini, The Furniture Collection, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 2004, p. 316

Catalogue Note

My first exposure to the work of Gerrit Thomas Rietveld came when I worked with the architects Jan and Theo Stuivinga in Zeist, the central Netherlands in the early 1950s.  The Stuivingas were active in Zeist since 1906 and possessed a valuable architectural archive, where I first discovered Rietveld’s designs.

My interest in modern architecture was stimulated by my visits to the villas by Robert van ‘t Hof and by Rietveld at Huis ter Heide and Bilthoven.  When van ‘t Hof was building Villa Henny, he asked Rietveld to design the furniture and to become a member of the avant-garde de Stijl group—this involvment would be highly influential to Rietveld’s career.

I first met Rietveld himself when I won an honorable mention in a design contest in 1952.  This contest was organized by the timber company Jongeneel in Utrecht, and Rietveld was a member of the jury.  Two years later, I was employed by Dingemans and Wouda Architects in Utrecht who also showed enthusiasm for Rietveld’s work.  I also had the inspiring opportunity to meet the tile supplier, Driessen, in Arhem who showed me Rietveld’s designs for both his showroom and house.

After working for Dingermans and Wouda as well as the architect Zuiderhoek in Baarn, I finally began to work for Rietveld himself in Utrecht in 1960.  I called him directly to ask if I could work for him, and he instantly asked me to come in for an interview with examples of my designs.  And thus started my career with the architect I admired so much.

While working for Rietveld, I also became acquainted with his cabinetmaker Gerard van de Groenekan, who made my first four "Zig Zag" chairs in 1960, and who also became a good friend. All of the chairs offered in this auction are signed and dated by van de Groenekan himself.

During my employment with Rietveld, I helped to translate his sketches into working drawings.  In order to show that he had confidence in my capabilities as an architect, Rietveld asked me to design a house in Huizen for the family of the weaving company De Ploeg in Bergeijk.  Through Rietveld I also met Mrs. Schröder, the owner of the famous Rietveld-Schröder House in Utrecht that Rietveld designed.

By 1964, I founded my own architecture firm together with another young architect, but did not forget my work with Rietveld.  I deeply respect his simplicity, honesty and directness.  Rietveld’s support and belief in my designs was always deeply inspirational for me, and working with him was an invaluable experience.

—Jan van Beest


This "Zig Zag" chair demonstrates Gerrit Thomas Rietveld’s ability to experiment with form and construction in his planar furniture designs. The present model is a variation on his simpler "Zig Zag" chairs that are designed without arm rests or embellished backrests.  In the present example, the chair’s design is enlivened by angular arm rests and circular cut-out decorations that provide a sense of rhythmic geometry.  An example in the Stedelijk Museum employs a similar design technique, but with larger armrests.  The present lot demonstrates how the "Zig Zag" model went through different evolutions of design by adding and subtracting structural elements—this chair is therefore rare in its construction and desirable given Gerard van de Groenekan’s production of the model years after its design in the late 1960s.