Gerrit Thomas Rietveld (1888-1964) was a Dutch furniture designer and architect. Being one of the principal members of the Dutch artistic movement called De Stijl, Rietveld is famous for his Red and Blue Chair and for the Rietveld Schröder House, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Rietveld was born in Utrecht in 1888 as the son of a joiner. He left school at 11 to be apprenticed to his father and enrolled at night school before working as a draughtsman for a jeweller. By the time he opened his own furniture workshop in 1917, Rietveld had taught himself drawing, painting and model-making. He afterwards set up in business as a cabinet-maker.
Rietveld designed his famous Red and Blue Chair in 1917. Hoping that much of his furniture would eventually be mass-produced rather than handcrafted, Rietveld aimed for simplicity in construction. In 1918 he started his own furniture factory, and changed the chair's colors after becoming influenced by the "De Stijl" movement which was founded the year before by Theo van Doesburg, and he became a member in 1919, the same year in which he became an architect. The contacts that he made at De Stijl gave him the opportunity to exhibit abroad as well for example in 1923, Walter Gropius invited Rietveld to exhibit at the Bauhaus.
Rietveld broke with "De Stijl" in 1928 and became associated with a more functionalist style of architecture. From the late 1920s he was concerned with social housing, inexpensive production methods, new materials, prefabrication and standardization. In 1927 he was already experimenting with prefabricated concrete slabs, a very unusual material at that time.
In the 1920s and 1930s, however, all his commissions came from private individuals, and it was not until the 1950s that he was able to put his progressive ideas about social housing into practice, in projects in Utrecht and Reeuwijk.