The Story Behind The Iconic Zig-Zag Chair

Time: 2018-03-27

The Story Behind The Iconic Zig-Zag Chair

In the early 1930s, Dutch department store Metz & Co. asked Gerrit Rietveld to do something unprecedented: design a chair for mass production.

The architect agreed, proposing a Z-shaped perch made from four slices of sturdy elm supported by dovetail joints and metal screws. It was no standard seat, but to everyone’s surprise the armless, legless, cantilevered form—a mere sliver in profile—was simultaneously comfortable and sturdy.

Creatives of all stripes were taken with its smart craftsmanship: Several decades later, artist Donald Judd placed five around a dining table at his New York place, 101 Spring Street, and two more at his Architecture Office in Marfa, Texas. In an arty advertising campaign, Karl Lagerfeld deemed it a favorite.

It’s simple but elegant,” explains contemporary Dutch talent Joris Laarman. “You admire it even more after you make one. Every detail and angled cut is important.”

Not surprisingly, the price for an original mass-produced marvel has far exceeded its department-store tag.

“It’s pure abstraction,” says Kevin Roberts, of interior-design firm Haynes-Roberts, who snapped up a set of six in 2004. “And it contrasts beautifully with things that are more decorative, like, say, 18th-century French chairs

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