Richard Hutten not only designs chairs, he also collects them. Since he graduated from the Design Academy in Eindhoven in 1990 he has been buying unusual chairs, or exchanging them with designer friends for his own designs. His collection now numbers more than a hundred items, from prototypes to the great design classics, from graduation projects to unique pieces. The Gemeentemuseum will be showing Hutten’s personal collection alongside chairs of his own design, like the Berlage chair based on a chair designed by architect H.P. Berlage.
Richard Hutten – Sit! will feature a hundred chairs ‘that matter’, according to this Dutch designer, whether because of their cutting-edge design or because the maker is someone who is dear to him. All the items in the exhibition are Hutten’s own work or are from his private collection, and date from the 1990s to the present day.
‘Experimenting and trying things out is all part of the game, with the ultimate goal of making that one chair that really matters.’
The exhibition reveals the universe of a designer and collector who has set out to find the ultimate chair. The knowledge that this effort is doomed to failure does not stop Hutten from continuing his search, and from experimenting and trying things out. Every design is a new adventure for him in which he approaches utilitarian objects as playful tools for daily life. ‘I want to make things that become parts of other peoples lives, and acquire their own story,’ he explains.
Inspired by this idea, the exhibition focuses on the role chairs play in Hutten’s life and work, considering the bond that has grown between him and his collection. Irrespective of the material, the technique, the dimensions and the tradition of the designs, the objects on show all speak to Hutten’s fascinations, ambitions and preferences.
Richard Hutten (b. 1967) has been one of the Netherlands’ best-known designers for over a quarter of a century. He graduated from the Design Academy in Eindhoven in 1991. That same year he launched his design studio in Rotterdam, where he works on his furniture, product, interior and exhibition designs. After graduating he became involved in the recently established Droog Design, and was therefore one of the prime movers behind Dutch Design, which has enjoyed huge international success. Besides his work for Droog Design, he is also creative director at Gispen, and designs for leading furniture manufacturers like Moooi, Moroso and Kvadrat.
The chair has been a recurring source of fascination throughout Hutten’s career. 1992 saw his international breakthrough with his functional, no-nonsense Table Chair, the first object in the No Sign of Design series that has evolved into an icon of Dutch design. Later he designed a table bench in the form of a Latin cross (The Cross), the Bronto child’s chair, the Zuyder Zee chair and a series of Berlage chairs that he designed specially for the café at the Gemeentemuseum. The museum features other designs by Hutten, including the benches, shop displays and side tables in the Garden Gallery, and the chairs in museum restaurant Gember (at the GEM/Hague Museum of Photography building next door).