Artifort Design Group
The history of Wagemans Maastricht Ltd., the manufacturer of Artifort furniture, goes back to the end of the nineteenth century. Jules Wagemans set up in Maastricht in 1890 as tapisseur-garnisseur, a regular name at the time for the profession of upholsterer. Under the management of his son, Henricus Wagemans, the modest upholstery business had expanded by the late 1920s to become a furniture factory which slowly but surely made a name for itself on a national scale.
Trading under the name of Artifort, which was intended to reflect the qualities of the upholstered furniture - good design (art) and durability (fortis) - the N.V. Meubelfabriek, formerly H. Wagemans & Van Tuinen marketed mainly 'classic' armchairs and sofas in the period preceding World War II.
The items in the Artifort collection which had a more modern design were generally inspired by contemporary trends, such as the Amsterdam School, the Hague School, and the French Art Déco style. In the 1930' special joint projects were regularly carried out with architects and designers for the interior decoration of various hotels, restaurants and a large number of luxury liners. The development and execution of commissions of this kind resulted in the appointment of the skilled craftsman and furniture maker Theo Ruth as permanent designer in 1936.
After World War II the Artifort collection became more and more modern under the impact of new ideas, materials and techniques. In the fifties the collection included not only designs by Theo Ruth, including his design for the easily dismantled armchair 'Congo' (1952), but also contemporary pieces of furniture by foreign designers and by the architect Gerrit Th. Rietveld.
Rietveld's designs - the only upholstered chairs in his oeuvre - were specially designed for the Dutch pavilion in the Expo '58 World Exhibition in Brussels.
The design policy was orientated towards the international market because the Dutch market was not large enough for a company which wanted to specialise in contemporary design products. Contact was soon established with various foreign designers, including Pierre Paulin (Parios) and Geoffrey D. Harcourt (Great Brittain). The team comprising these designers and Kho Liang le was successful in making the Artifort collection an international phenomenon in the 1960s. The striking sculptural furniture by Pierre Paulin attracted publicity at home and abroad.
Today Artifort is still adhering to its policy of collaboration with various designers at home and abroad to give its collection a profile of its own.
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