by Gerrit Rietveld
Think of Rietveld and it is likely that a wooden chair appears on your retina: the ZigZag or perhaps the Crate Chair. However, there are also upholstered models in the same crisp style by the modernist: the Utrecht Chair. Even in his day, not everyone thought his wooden chairs were overly comfortable. And although Rietveld himself stated that ‘to sit is a verb’, it is likely that he succumbed to the calls for him to make an ‘easy’ chair.
The chair, with armrests that turn into the front legs, was first produced in 1936 by the company Metz & Co. There are no hind legs: The seat and backrest form an angle, of which the join functions as the hind leg. The first version was upholstered with brown sail-cloth and finished with clearly visible stitching. After the war, Metz & Co resumed production of the chair, but now with woollen upholstery with again eye-catching white stitching.
In 1972, Cassina acquired, after lengthy negotiations, the rights to produced all of the furniture and objects by Rietveld. The Italian company started with the wooden chairs ZigZag and the Red & Blue Chair. Only after sixteen years, a hundred years after the birth of Rietveld, was the upholstered Utrecht Chair produced by Cassina. It is now available in different coloured woollen material and even in black leather.