Friso Kramer belongs to the Netherlands' first generation of industrial designers. He takes a modernist, no-frills approach to design and insists on high-quality materials and construction. His ceaseless efforts to improve industrial products have had a great impact on the profession and influenced countless industrial designers.
He created Revolt – now an icon of Dutch industrial design – for the manufacturer Ahrend/De Cirkel in 1953. The innovative piece became one of the Netherlands' top-selling chairs and found a place in classrooms, offices and homes around the world. Revolt exemplified Kramer's revolutionary postwar reconstruction work. The chair deployed plastic in an entirely new way. Its construction, though less striking, was also innovative, based on a frame made of sheet steel instead of tubes, then the norm in low-priced utility furniture.
Revolt is still available today, in a redesigned form commissioned from Kramer by Ahrend around 1990. The new version is 2.5cm taller and has a roomier seat and back.
Yvonne Brentjens's Friso Kramer’s Chair recounts how the chair became an icon.
In 2011, Friso Kramer donated his extensive 10-metre-long archive to the Netherlands Institute for Art History. The institute made the archive accessible to the public, with the help of a grant from the Mondriaan Foundation and the close cooperation of the designer and his wife, Netty Kramer, as part of a larger project to improve access to historical design documents. Kramer's archive, which contains materials such as sketches, photographs and correspondence, serves as a rich resource for researchers. It sheds light on his style, material choices and underlying ideas; how he ran his agency in the second half of the 20th century; the details of specific design processes; and the general development of a new industrial design discipline.
Premsela Design Stories
Friso Kramer's Chair is the fourth volume in the Premsela Design Stories series, in which Premsela and Nai010 Publishers tell tales from Dutch design history. Each book centres on an iconic object that is characteristic of a particular period and has played an important role in design’s evolution.
The series began with Rietveld's Chair, a book investigating the inception and reception of Gerrit Rietveld's red-and-blue chair by art historian Marijke Kuper, which was accompanied by a documentary DVD by Lex Reitsma. In a second book, The Style of the Stedelijk, Reitsma and Frederike Huygen provide a gripping account of the Stedelijk Museum’s unique relationship with graphic design and its quest for a new visual identity. A third book, The Dutch Bike, follows the trail of the ubiquitous two-wheeler in all its manifestations, from the everyday workhorse seen on every street in the Netherlands to the hip designer machine featured in the pages of trendy magazines and top newspapers abroad.