In 1916, the industrial designer and architect Willem Hendrik Gispen (1890-1981) began an ornamental smithy in Rotterdam. The first products were applied art pieces and unique items in wrought iron, copper and bronze. In 1926, Gispen started the production of Giso lamps, and three years later, the first steel tube chairs for home and office. The exhibiting of Giso lamps and furniture at the international fair “Die Wohnung” in Stuttgart, Germany in 1927 put Gispen on the international map. Gispen’s success at the Stuttgart fair led to more international activities and competition with the likes of Mart Stam, Gerrit Rietveld, Marcel Breuer, Jindřich Halabala and Le Corbusier. Gispen soon boasted showrooms in Brussels, Paris, London, Cape Town and Willemstad (Curacao). Design, innovation and quality always remained Gispen’s core values.
The highly respected Willem Hendrik Gispen was considered the most important Dutch representative of so-called “Functionalism”. Gispen’s designs are still manufactured today in several factories in the Netherlands.