Artifort, Kho Liang Ie and Theo Ruth

Artifort is the oldest Dutch furniture factory from the pantheon of the 1950s and 1960s. It was established by Jules Wagemans in 1890. It was his son Henricus who developed the family company to the size of a thriving factory with its own retail outlets in Amsterdam. The manufacturing company was not called Artifort until 1928. A global crisis made that the then owners decided to give the company a new feature and a new logo. The name originates from Latin “ars” that means “art” and “fortis” that means “powerful”, “strong”. The focus was kept on functionality, comfort, quality and innovative materials. In the 1950s Theo Ruth became the manager of a team of new designers in Artifort. His designs gave a modern appearance to the old factory. The Congo armchair from 1952 became a great hit of the manufacturing company. This was only the beginning of Artifort’s wonderful history. A milestone was reached when an architect and designer of Chinese origins, Kho Liang Ie, joined the company. Since that moment Artifort started to work its way up the European design ladder. Employing the French Pierre Paulin was the final touch. Together, Liang Ie and Paulin made a collection that is a design icon even today. The French designed, for example, iconic chairs such as the Oyster, the Tulip and the Orange Slice, which are manufactured today and are present in millions of houses all over the world. Liang Ie designed furniture that is set stronger in the tradition of Rietveld and Martin Visser; he combined metal with soft materials, a minimalistic form with the comfort of use. He gained international fame for designing furnishing for Schiphol, a new airport near Amsterdam, in the 1960s. The furniture he designed are displayed in Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and the Catharijneconvent Museum in Utrecht. Artifort operates today and is one of the best recognized factories all over the world that manufactures designer furniture.