W. Gispen & Co.

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(established 1916)

This metalworking firm was founded by Willem Gispen (1890–1981) in Rotterdam in 1916 and was involved in the production of ornamental metalwork for architects. From 1919 the company diversified into furniture and other domestic artefacts which were sold in Gispen's shop Het Gulden Vlies (The Golden Fleece) together with the work of other designers. He became increasingly interested in modern design and, in the 1920s, moved away from individual one‐off designs towards the serial production of modern functionalist lights sold under the trade name of Giso, first registered in 1927. He also began to manufacture modern tubular steel furniture from 1929, by which time his company was employing about 100. This had been given extra impetus by large commission for the striking Modernist Van Nelle factory in Rotterdam, designed by L. C. Van Der Vlugt. In the 1930s the company went on to produce a wide range of steel plate furniture. Gispen had been a founder‐member of the Rotterdam group of avant‐garde architects and designers, Opbouw and was concerned to present a concerted Modernist corporate identity for his company, complementing the contemporary lighting and furniture ranges with up‐to‐date publicity materials and printed ephemera. To this end he employed Jan Kammen from 1928 to 1934 and Paul Schuitema in 1930.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.

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