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. 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.
“For me, the challenge lies in finding ways to fuse technical perfection with aesthetic form.”
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.
“a sense of proportion, a taste for clean lines with an accent on first-class materials.”
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.