The Avant-garde of the 1960s Martin Visser and Rietveld
ONE WEEK ABOUT Product Design by curator Toon Lauwen
The practice of self-producing young designers (breeding ground for Droog Design) was not an end in itself but a result of an alienation in the relationship with the Dutch furniture industry. This relationship used to be fine in the heyday of post-war Modernism: the 1950s and 1960s brought Dutch design into blossom. The economy was booming and companies like Pastoe (Cees Braakman), Ahrend (Friso Kramer), De Cirkel (Wim Rietveld), Artifort (Kho Liang Ie), Gelderland (Jan des Bouvrie) and Spectrum (Martin Visser) appointed designers as art directors.
Martin Visser designed the sofa bed BZ02.7, which symbolized the revival of an elementary, undecorated visual language during this period. Visser knew the post-war furniture particularly well. After all, before he started working as a designer at Spectrum in 1955, he used to be working at the Bijenkorf as a furniture buyer for many years. Together with Benno Premsela, he annually presented overviews of new trends under the heading ‘Ons huis, ons thuis’ (Our house, our home) in the Amsterdam branch of the department store. The ultimate, sleek design of ‘the Martin Visser-bank’ (the Martin Visser couch) in 1960 finally put an end to the flowing, organic lines of the reconstruction. Visser returned to the bright simplicity that Gerrit Rietveld had introduced with his chairs in the 1920s.
This revaluation coincided with a growing interest in early Modernism among designers such as Wim Crouwel, Otto Treumann, Friso Kramer and Aldo van den Nieuwelaar. In his penchant for Gerrit Rietveld’s designs, Martin Visser took the lead. When he wanted to live near the Spectrum factory in Bergeijk, he also asked Rietveld to design his house.