The prototype of this chair was produced in 1917/18 and seemed to encapsulate the principles of abstraction recently espoused by the newly formed De Stijl group. A commentator in the Hollandsche Revue wrote 'Where modern furniture designers only simplify the old forms into more or less straight shapes, and therefore only make variations...within the boundaries of traditional conceptions, here out of space, function and material a new shape, according to the demands of modern times, has emerged'.
The simplicity implied in this description is captured perfectly in this chair which is one of the first three to have been made. It predates the coloured versions, an innovation suggested by Bart van der Leck (another of the De Stijl group), to whom this chair was given by Rietveld.
The use of standardised single components, in addition to a visual uniformity, also suggested the possibilities of mass production and in doing so, prefigured the developments of Bauhaus designers such as Breuer (See Lot 76).
However the use of wood (Rietveld's training was as a cabinetmaker) caused problems of durability, for the linking dowels were not capable of withstanding constant stress. For this reason production of the chair remained very limited while the tubular steel furniture of his successors proved able to respond to the natural demand.