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G. Thomas Rietveld

Gerrit Thomas Rietveld was born in Utrecht in 1888, where he began working in his father’s furniture workshop at the age of 11. In the evenings, he studied technical draughtsmanship at the Utrecht Museum of Applied Arts, under the tuition of architect, Piet Klaarhamer. He went on to work for a local goldsmith and opened his own furniture workshop in 1917. Rietveld believed that the handcrafted furniture of the time was too heavy, too labour-intensive and unnecessarily expensive. He was interested in how machines could produce furniture that was simpler in style and more accessible to a mass market. In doing so, his work revolutionised the way that furniture was designed and produced. In 1919 his slatted chair, in unstained beech at the time, was featured in the De Stijl art journal edited by Theo van Doesburg. This was the beginning of Rietveld’s rise to international success.