Gerrit Thomas Rietveld was born in Utrecht in 1888 and while still a child moved with his family to Poortstraat where his father opened a carpentry workshop. Having completed his elementary schooling, Gerrit began working in his father’s workshop, but a few years later his desire for an artistic education led him to return to school.
Between 1904 and 1908 he attended courses at the Museum of Arts and Crafts in Utrecht and from 1906 frequented the course of architecture in the atelier of P. J. Klaarhamer (1874-1954), from whom he leant much about the figurative and plastic arts, philosophy and literature.
In 1911 Rietveld married Vrouwgien Hadders (1883-1957). The family grew rapidly and in 1917 the couple moved to Adriaan van Ostadelaan, where Gerrit, at the age of 29, opened his own atelier.
In 1919 he met the painter Theo van Doesburg, the architect J. J. P. Oud and joined the De Stijl movement founded two years earlier with the publication of the periodical of the same name.
In 1921 he initiated a fruitful collaboration with Mrs. Truus Schröder-Schräder that continued uninterrupted for over 40 years. In 1924, they designed together the Schröder House on Prins Hendriklaan which over the following years became the built manifesto of De Stijl architecture. The house brought Rietveld vast international fame.
In 1928, he was one of the founding members of the CIAM (Congrès Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne) and participated in the first Congress held at La Sarraz (Switzerland). Years of intensive design work followed, with the realization of important works.
For over 15 years (1942-1958) Rietveld also taught at the Fine Arts Academy in The Hague and subsequently at the Architecture Academy in Amsterdam.
He was one of the protagonists in the years of reconstruction following the Second World War. His work as an architect and planner was flanked by that of a skilled curator and exhibition space designer. He was responsible for the memorable De Stijl 1917-1928 exhibitions he prepared for the Stedlijk Museum in Amsterdam (1951) and Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York.
In 1958, his how town hosted the first retrospective exhibition of his work in the Centraal Museum. That same year saw the appearance of the first monograph in which the work of the Utrecht “carpenter” received international recognition.
He was awarded two honours in 1954 and 1963: he was made a knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau and give the Silver City Medal by the municipality of Utrecht. In 1961 he formed a partnership with the architects J. van Dillen and J. van Tricht with whom he worked on all subsequent projects. Shortly before his death, on the 25th of June 1964, Rietveld was nominated as an honorary member of the National Order of Dutch Architects (B.N.A.) and received an honorary degree from the Polytechnic School of Architecture in Delft.