From its founding in 1913, Pastoe has put its capital into both manufacturing innovation and the modern furniture designs this enables. From the beginning, this has resulted in innovative contemporary furniture that continues to be sought after, decade after decade.
“Studio Pastoe, the in-house designer for the Dutch modern furniture maker Pastoe, offers a simple promise: ‘In every piece of furniture, we strive for architectural precision down to the very last millimeter,’” explains Andrew Fisher, owner of the Arkitektura Showrooms of San Francisco and Birmingham, Michigan, an official Pastoe representative.
“Thus begins our understanding of this very creative organization as it enters its second century of fine modern furniture design and manufacture,” Fisher adds.
Beyond its in-house design teams, Pastoe executes the work of many famous designers. Among them are Scholten & Baijings who term their contributions to Pastoe as “minimalist, yet richly detailed and finished in a distinctive color palette.” To these blends of distinctive shapes and materials Pastoe add the highest quality and durability to modern sofas, chairs, tables, cabinets and other furnishings. Each example of this modern furniture, the company knows, will be treasured for years.
Pastoe’s own words describe the source of its design strengths: “Well-thought out and surprisingly simple furniture. Comfortable and easy on the eye, never intrusive and even remarkably familiar. Pure and fair, as if they've been around for years. Because a product needs to be more than its outward appearance. It needs personality; you should be able to love it, to get attached to it. The product needs to be able to age graciously.”
“The self-defining statements of their many designers capture the full richness of the Pastoe collections with a few simple words,” says the owner of the Arkitektura Showrooms. Located in San Francisco and Birmingham, Michigan, the Arkitektura Showrooms offers architects, interior designers and private collectors an opportunity to explore almost sixty modern furniture and contemporary lighting brands from leading manufacturers around the world.
For example, from Pastoe’s Cees Braakman comes this high standard of design: “The challenge lies in finding ways to fuse technical perfection with aesthetic form.”
“Timelessness and sustainability are always my starting points, whether designing furniture or interiors,” offers Vincent Van Duysen.
“People say that my work is minimalistic. But I don’t believe in the word minimalism. My creations are more about maximalism,”challenges Pastoe designer Maarten Van Severen.
From Pierre Mazairac: “I like to look for the essence of things with like-minded individuals;” and from Karel Boonzaaijer: “I am fascinated by architectonic constructions and minimalistic simplicity.”
Frits Loeb founded the Pastoe factory in 1913 under the name "Utrecht Machine Chair and Furniture Factory," building and selling chairs which quickly became in demand throughout the Netherlands. Outgrowing the original space because of its commercial success, the factory moved to Utrecht where it remains.
UMS, as the firm was originally called, began to produce innovative designs that embraced the influences of Scandinavia and art deco. In 1948, the "Pas- Toe" was added after Managing Director and designer Cees Braakman introduced a new technique of curved plywood that offered a new simplicity of design for cabinets and innovative storage products, each shape rendered modern furniture art when finished with oak, birch and teak veneers.
“What evolved was the ‘furniture made-to-measure series,’” summarizes the Arkitektura Showrooms owner. “Thus, the flexible enclosure system was born,” Fisher adds.
One more Pastoe designer sums up the resulting opportunities when advanced materials and processes meet design. “My challenge is the experimentation with geometrical forms, which can be traced back to the work of modern visual artists such as Donald Judd and Jan Schoonhoven,” says Aldo Van Den Nieuwelaar. Thus, the company boasts the BKI Prize for Innovation as well as design awards from Triennale in Milan and Le Signe d'Or in Belgium.
In 2013, a retrospective exhibition was held at the Kunsthal in Rotterdam to honor the 100th anniversary of Pastoe, unveiling a history of collaborative innovation by this Dutch furniture brand that has brought it both artistic and business success.