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Gispen Specials - The Customer is Always Right

from September 10 2016 until February 26 2017

Marchel van der Schalk, Desk for the Gasunie, 1995, produced by Gispen. Armchair nr. 412 and the SUM, a design by UNStudio from 2004, photo: Chris van Koeverden. The rooftop tea room of the Van Nelle Factory in Rotterdam, ca. 1930, Collection Stadsarchief Rotterdam, photo: E. van Ojen. Maarten Baas, Four More or Less chairs, 2011, metal and wood, produced by Gispen, photo: Chris van Koeverden. W.H. Gispen, Chandelier for Sociëteit De Witte, 1930, Nickel-plated brass, glass, Collection Galerie Van den Bruinhorst, Kampen. Interior of the minister’s room in the Waalse Kerk in Rotterdam with a stove made by Gipsen (1924), photo Collection Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed.

Gispen’s tubular steel furniture and Giso lamps enrich many Dutch homes and offices. They remain popular classics among collectors, corporate clients and individuals. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen celebrates the hundredth anniversary of this famous Dutch furniture manufacturer with an exhibition of the company’s ‘specials’: unique commissions and limited editions.

Gispen Specials

The exhibition ‘Gispen Specials – The Customer is Always Right’ focuses on the unknown Gispen. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen has selected fifty special editions and objects produced in limited numbers. These designs show the company’s quality and flexibility, which have made Dutch design famous throughout the world. Almost without exception, the specials resulted from the specific brief of a client who was unable to find what they wanted in Gispen’s (or other companies’) standard range.

Piano lamp

These special editions range from a cast-iron chandelier for the Waalse Kerk in Rotterdam in 1924, a piano lamp for a friend of the director in 1928 and an extra-large conference table for the Van Nelle Factory around 1930. In 1986 Gispen designed ‘anthroposophical’ desks for the Gasunie building and in 1988 chairs for the Rotterdamse Schouwburg. The piano lamp – a special that became part of the main product range – is one of Gispen’s most radical designs.

Gispen in Rotterdam

Willem Hendrik Gispen (1890-1981) had not yet graduated from art school in Rotterdam when he established W.H. Gispen & Co on the Coolsestraat in 1916. Together with architects Brinkman & Van der Vlugt, Gispen furnished the interior of the Van Nelle Factory, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Gispen was also the principal supplier of furniture for Sonneveld House. This villa, a stone’s thrown from Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, is one of the most important examples of luxurious Functionalist architecture.

Watch the video made by ARTtube to learn more about Gispen:

The exhibition is also accompanied by a publication ‘Gispen Specials - The Customer is Always Right’ available from the museum shop or online at webshop.boijmans.nl.

This exhibition is on show in galleries 40, 49, 51 and 52.