Gispen Specials: The Customer is Always Right

W.H. Gispen, Lighting ornament for Zeelandia, 1936, chromed metal, glass, Koninklijke Zeelandia Groep b.v., Zierikzee. W.H. Gispen, Cradle on wheels, 1935, chromed metal, lacquered wood, Linge Family Collection. W.H. Gispen, chair for Bond voor Kunst in Industrie, 1941, lacquered bar steel, fabric, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam.

Press release

Gispen Specials: The Customer is Always Right
10 September 2016 until 26 February 2017

Every lover of interior design will have something by Gispen in their home. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen celebrates the centenary of the iconic Dutch brand with an exhibition of lesser-known Gispen designs – the 'specials', objects that were commissioned.

Tubular Furniture
In the 1920s the metal tubular furniture by the industrial designer Willem Hendrik Gispen (1890-1981) was primarily regarded as something for offices and hospitals. It was not until much later that his lamps, armchairs and tables found their way into Dutch domestic interiors.

A number of designs that were once made to commission are now part of Gispen’s regular furniture lines. There are often unusual stories behind the development of these ‘specials’. In 1935, for example, Hendrik Linge and his wife Dina Duintjer of Groningen asked Gispen to design a cradle for their first child. This cradle was fitted with the same rectangular support as the tea tables on wheels that Gispen produced from 1933 onwards. A bar above the bed supports a canopy, softening the functionality to some extent.

Gispen made another 'special' for the Holland America Line. In 1936 the designer was invited to contribute to furnishing the luxury passenger liner S.S Nieuw Amsterdam. As well as tables for the deck and self-righting ashtrays he also designed a recliner. This chair with its characteristic, slightly splayed legs and a comfortable cushion was ultimately added to the collection as no. 404 and became a bestseller.

Design Collection
Gispen Specials: The Customer is Always Right showcases the extraordinary history behind fifty specials. The exhibition also focuses on Gipsen’s Design Collection – non-traditional furniture conceived by trend-setting designers like Richard Hutten, Anke Bernotat and Maarten Baas.

Gispen in Rotterdam
The exhibition opens on 10 September and runs until 26 February 2017. Stroll past the locations where Gipsen specials can be found during the weekend of 9 and 10 September. The Waalse Kerk will open especially for the occasion and Huis Sonneveld opposite Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen can be visited free of charge that weekend. On Sunday 9 October visitors will be able to have their Gipsen products valued by an expert.