In 1934, the Dutch architect and furniture designer Gerrit Rietveld sought to combine the utopian geometric elementalism of de Stijl with an economics and authenticity of material by--look, everyone was broke, so he made furniture out of wood from leftover crates. To beef up the margin, he sold kits of pre-cut lumber so the honest workman could build his own chairs for his own humble, modernist home.
Last year, the first pair of child-sized Krat [Crate] easy chairs, which Rietveld built for his daughter, sold at Christie's for a decidedly immodest amount [which I am too cheap to pay to look up.] [update: so I called Christie's to get the result: EUR10,2000 against a mere EUR1,000-1,500 estimate. wow.]
But 2007 was also the year that a couple of Rietveld's grandchildren motivated and re-released the Crate Chair Junior as a build-it-yourself kit. According to the Dutch press, Japanese tourists are packing home a couple hundred Crate Juniors a month from Amsterdam's museum gift shops.
In this season of depressing exchange rates and global financial meltdowns, might I suggest savoring the irony of schlepping a $275 box of 1x6's halfway around the world--and then just building a chair your own damn self?
update update: Save yourself the trip, if not the money. Genius Jones has the Crate Chair Junior in the US for $415. Guess the Rietvelds haven't learned about wholesale.
Rietveld Crate Chair Junior in red, blue, yellow, or unfinished, EUR179 [vangoghmuseumshop.com]
Rietveld Crate Easy Chairs at Christie's Amsterdam [chairblog.eu, seriously]
kind of related: Wave Hill Rietveld Chair [storkbitesman]