The functionalist form of Gerrit Rietveld’s "Zig Zag" Chair is a response to the cantilevered chairs designed by German architects such as Mart Stam, Heinz and Bodo Rasch, and Marcel Breuer in the 1920s. Rietveld intended the chair to be mass-produced from simple materials. It consists of four rectangles whose arrangement forms a cohesive unit that gives the appearance of seamless construction in profile. At first, however, Rietveld was unable to achieve a continuous cantilevered structure that would hold the weight of a person solely in wood. Therefore, he inserted a series of screws, dovetail joints, and reinforcing wedges to structurally support the design. The "Zig Zag" Chair was ultimately produced by the Dutch firm Metz & Co. in a few variations until the 1950s. Because of its iconic status, in 1971, the chair was again put into production by the Italian firm Cassina. This example in pine dates from the earliest years.

Cataloguing data may change with further research.

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Gerrit Rietveld, Dutch, 1888–1964
"Zig-Zag" Chair
Designed 1932, made c. 1940
Overall: 30 3/4 × 14 3/4 × 15 3/4 in. (78.1 × 37.5 × 40 cm)
Credit Line

The American Institute of Architects, Houston Design Collection, museum purchase funded by friends of Anderson Todd and S. I. Morris in their honor, and by the Decorative Arts Endowment

Current Location
Not on view
Accession Number

J.A. van den Berg, Utrecht, Netherlands, c. 1940; [Galerie Ulrich Fiedler, Cologne, Germany]; [Sotheby's, New York, December 14, 2007, lot 439]; purchased by MFAH, 2007.