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Crate furniture

In 1934 Rietveld designed a first series of crate furniture, consisting of an armchair, a small bookcase and a small table. These were items for which the appearance was largely dictated by the application of standard lumber size planks for different parts of the furniture. The choice of using standardized industrial products was motivated by Rietveld’s aim to make furniture production more efficient. The furniture is almost completely built from firewood planks with a width of circa. 15 cm. A constantly recurring, distinctive wide chink is left between the planks.  Dry joints connect the components with brass screws, which are left visible. At this time this type of wood and construction method was used for packing crates, hence the name of the series.

The radically simple crate furniture was heavily criticised by some contemporaries, because of the lack of traditional workmanship. Rietveld defended his designs by saying that traditionally-produced furniture was transported in crates to avoid being damaged. It was obvious to him that the packing material was stronger, and therefore better, than its content. After 1935 much more crate furniture followed, including various chairs, tables and stools. After producing them in his own name for a while, the crate furniture was sold by Metz and Co. under the name ‘weekend furniture’. Because of the simple appearance and the relatively low price they were most suitable for holiday homes.

View the photos  on Flickr.

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