Take a look at this chair. How on earth does it stay standing, you may ask? Just four pieces of flat wood stuck together and it doesn’t collapse when you sit on it. Amazing. Well I suppose six pieces of wood if you count the triangular batons on the diagonal joint. But even so, what a feat of engineering.
Gerrit Rietveld born in Utrecht in 1888 was the son of a carpenter and worked with his father until he was 15. While working as a draughtsman for a jeweller he studied architecture with P J Klaarhamer and as and Architect became involved in de Stijl (the style) founded in 1917 by Theo Van Doesburg and Piet Mondrian. This group reduced forms to an arrangement of horizontal and vertical lines and used mainly primary colours. These principals are clearly seen in his work at that time.
After leaving de Stijl in 1928 he became concerned with social housing and inexpensive production methods experimenting with concrete and pre-fabrication.
In 1934 he designed the Zig-Zag chair from four slabs of hard wood with dovetail and glued joints and two wedges to fix the seat and the base. Rietveld originally wanted to create the chair from one piece of wood but as this became impossible to produce, it then became four pieces. From 1935 the chair was produced by Dutch furniture manufacturer Metz&Co. Today it is manufactured by Cassina. I have inserted a short film on how the chair is made here
There is no denying that this is a stunning chair, totally unique and now available in several wood finishes and also in red, yellow and blue – very de Stijl. It is surprisingly comfortable, looks good on its own or a group around a simple dining table and probably the best bit is that it only takes up a small amount of room.
You can buy your own from Skandium here.