Crafts and Design in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is a cultural nation. From the Gothic period (c. 1150–1525), the crafts in the Netherlands have been characterized by simplicity. The interiors have been simple and solid, often made of oak. They have set an example for the interiors throughout Northern Europe.


Cabinet made of black-stained wood veneered with ebony and turtle shell, wrought iron handles and brass knobs, interior oil paintings, chassis with turned legs. Made in the Netherlands around 1650.

The Renaissance and the Baroque

During the Renaissance (15th-16th century), the furniture was architecturally constructed. Most characteristic were the large linen cupboards. During the Baroque (1600-1750) the cabinets became heavier and wider and often had twisted columns on the front. Intarsia furniture became commonplace in the 17th century. Particularly well-known were the furniture fronts with floral patterns, the so-called flower marquetry. This had a great influence among others in England. Through its extensive import of East Asian porcelain, the local ceramic production was strongly influenced by the East. In particular, the objects from Delft became known far beyond the borders of the country. Here also grew an extensive weaving industry, whose large tapestries were spread throughout Europe.


In the 1900s, too, the Netherlands played an important role in the international arts and crafts. Of great importance was the De Stijl group around 1920. The most famous is Gerrit Rietveld’s furniture. After World War II, the Rietveld Academy has been a leading educational institution. Through this school, the ideals of simplicity have been spread to students from all over the world.

Jewelery Design

Emma van Leersum and Gijs Bakker revolutionized the art of jewelry in the mid-1960s, when they introduced the use of base materials and created jewelry used in nontraditional places on the body.


Marcel Wanders (1963) established his own studio in Amsterdam in 2000. He had already received attention for Knotted Chair a few years earlier. A chair made of synthetic rope of aramid and carbon, impregnated with epoxy and resin. The construction is very similar to traditional macramé, a technique that interests Wanders. He adheres freely to traditions and borrows unrestrictedly and puts together new and sometimes provocative products. A number of his designs border on the absurd, kitsch and extravagance. Wander’s free expression is probably so typical of what we have seen in the artist and design environments in the Netherlands and Belgium since the late 1900s.

Gerrit Rietveld

Gerrit Rietveld’s chair Zig-Zag was designed in 1932. This copy was produced by HG Metz in 1955.