Day 31/365 of Steel – Willem Hendrik Gispen

Willem Hendrik Gispen (7/12/1890-10/5/1981) is, for many Dutch people, the founder of factory production of design furniture.

Tubular Steel Chair Designed by Gispen
Fig 1: Tubular Steel Chair Designed by Gispen

Gispen’s designs are understatedly beautiful – sober – honest and graceful – elegant and functional. They reflect what Gispen wanted to achieve: products that fit into the zeitgeist with an individual beauty. And, industrially manufactured.

Gispen understood the need for industrial production, yet he preferred to make a customised product for each client. He played with shapes and materials and effortlessly adapted designs to the wishes of architect or client. In 1927, he started experimenting with tubular steel. Functionalist tubular steel furniture was produced in large numbers from 1929 onwards and sold mainly to companies.

Furniture for the Sonneveld House Designed by Gispen
Fig 2: Furniture for the Sonneveld House Designed by Gispen

The construction, and of course the design, of the Van Nelle Factory can be seen as the starting point for machine-made serial production of steel furniture in the Gispen factory. He also designed all the furniture for the Sonneveld House, one of the best-preserved houses in the Nieuwe Bouwen style. He continued to design products until later in life. Original designs by him can be found in many museums. Willem Hendrik Gispen is one of the best Dutch designers with a great reputation far beyond the Dutch border.

Design Collection by Gispen
Fig 3: Design Collection by Gispen

Thank you Guus Schmittmann for this great tip.

If you want to know more about this great Dutch designer, check out

About the Author:

Bruno Dursin – Managing Director at Believe in Steel. Bruno has more than 30 years of experience in promoting steel & steel solutions. His clients benefit from his extensive network within the building industry.

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