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Posted in Spotlight

Pastoe: Design Objectified

The A’dammer Storage systems 

For more than a hundred years, the goal at Pastoe has been to make furni­ture as objects.” And being the mini­mal­ists that we are here at Context, that is why this brand is one of our absolute favorites. 

Pastoe Cabinet
Vintage Pastoe Cabinet

Orig­i­nally a joinery shop in the Nether­lands, in 1913 busi­ness­man Frits Loeb decided he wanted to make the chairs his shop himself. Thus the basis of the brand as a whole: furni­ture that serves a purpose.

In the early 1920s, manager and designer D.L. Braak­man began exper­i­ment­ing with inno­v­a­tive design concepts, using art deco and Scan­di­na­vian influ­ence, but his ideas failed to make an impact on the general public. It was WWII that forced the company to restruc­ture itself, paving the way for a new start.

Cees Braak­man, son of D.L., took over as direc­tor and designer in 1945, leading Pastoe into a new era. After trav­el­ing the world, and namely the U.S., the young artist brought home influ­ences from pioneers such as Charles and Ray Eames. He brought to the board members the idea of inex­pen­sive, user-friendly, flex­i­ble furni­ture which would be more suited for Dutch homes. The Oak series (1948) and Birch series (1950) were geomet­ric cabinet elements that consumers could combine together. This was the begin­ning of a ground­break­ing concept: modular furni­ture fit to the home.

The company soon began putting all its focus on this concept in which consumers them­selves would assem­ble pieces, and in 1955 the Made-to-Measure Furni­ture Series” was revealed. The angu­lar­ity and precise measure­ments of each piece made the furni­ture customiz­able and expand­able. During this period they also released collec­tions such as the U+N, a restrained, simple and more formal design that couldn’t come apart, which would later become the hall­mark of the brand.

Photo of Cees Braakman
Cees Braak­man for Pastoe

But it wasn’t just the furni­ture that Cees Braak­man decided needed chang­ing. During his exten­sive time with the company, he brought in progres­sive artists, photog­ra­phers, and graphic design­ers to create memo­rable ad campaigns for the company, pushing the bound­aries yet again.

Braakman’s focus on modular cabi­netry won the brand tons of recog­ni­tion and awards through­out his 33-year career as head of design for Pastoe. His obses­sion with modular cabi­netry changed the furni­ture game as we know it today. The genius is found in the absence of excess and the simple idea of allow­ing the consumer to design their home in their home without constraint.

Today Pastoe carries on the legacy of its early design­ers, still allow­ing the customer to customize mate­ri­als, colors, and measure­ments specif­i­cally suited to their needs. Braak­man in his time with Pastoe was respon­si­ble for count­less pieces that have become iconic, but so simple that the world hardly even notices. The pieces brought by Pastoe are stream­lined and seam­less, not reveal­ing even a hinge. They are merely geomet­ric shapes in space, clev­erly hiding away the clutter of our every­day lives… the perfect solu­tion for the mini­mal­ist who needs to maxi­mize space without sacri­fic­ing refine­ment and style.

For me, the chal­lenge lies in finding ways to fuse tech­ni­cal perfec­tion with aesthetic form.”

– Cees Brakman

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