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Good design (ars) and durability (fortis) come together in Artifort, a manufacturer of some of the world’s most epochal furniture. Upholsterer Jules Wagermans founded the company in Maastricht in 1890. Following World War II, Artifort shed its traditional roots to embrace the modern movement under the guidance of interior/furniture designer Kho Liang le. Collaborations with the likes of Theo Ruth (Congo chair), and Gerrit Rietveld, cemented Artifort’s reputation with architects and design lovers as a manufacturer at the cutting edge of design. Kho Lian le’s recruitment of avante garde French designer Pierre Paulin was to be a major coup for Artifort and resulted in the most iconic designs of the 1960s and 70s. Paulin’s oeuve (which included the Tulip chair and Orange Slice) were fresh, innovative, and sculptural, making their way into many major museum collections, such as MOMA in New York City. Even today they are regarded as the face of Artifort. During the 1960s, Artifort also started to focus on the international contract market. English designer Geoffrey Harcourt was enlisted to create an extensive collection that was very much in demand. Under the creative leadership of Harry Wagemans, the company continued to attract young and established design talent. Nel Verschuuren, Bruno Ninaber van Eyben, Gijs Bakker and Jeremy Harvey – young designers at the time and well-established names today – came to work for Artifort. Pierre Paulin and Geoffrey Harcourt continued to add new furniture to the collection every year. Later collaborations included the calibre of Jasper Morrison, Rene Holten and Wolfgang Mezger. And in 2002, Patrick Norguet created the Apollo chair; a piece that became an instant classic and embraces everything Artifort stands for. Nowadays Artifort continues to challenge the status quo. Not content to rest on its laurels, the company is always looking towards the future. For example the Lotus by Rene Holten with its innovative use of materials and elegant form, demonstrates that Artifort is more than ready for the challenges of the 21st century.
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