A. D. Dekker


While it is difficult to unearth reliable biographical information about a number of 20th century designers, few prove as great a challenge as A. D. Dekker. The designer is best known for a series of colorful, adjustable shelving units produced by Dutch brand Tomado. Confusingly, however, the designs are often attributed to either Adriaan Dekker, D. Dekker, or both! Unfortunately, our editors have been unable to resolve the conflicting information. We have, however, successfully established some concrete, key facts: Tomado (which was founded in 1923 and is an abbreviation of Togt Massa Artikelen Dordrecht) commissioned the design for Expo 58 in Brussels (1958), the first World’s Fair that took place after the Second World War, although some sources indicate the design goes back as far as 1953.

The colorful shelves of Dekker’s design, which call to mind the primary colors of Gerrit Rietveld’s Red & Blue Chair (1917), can be height-adjusted on the unit’s black plastic-coated metal racks. Satisfying the demand for small pieces that stored more, the mass-produced Tomado shelving system found a ready-made market, and a range of colors and configurations were produced. An advertisement from circa 1964 proclaims that it “Geeft u de Ruimte!” or “Gives you Space!”

Despite the dearth of biographical information available on the designer, his brightly-colored and easy-to-identify wall units—each shelf branded with Tomado’s mark—have been rediscovered in the 21st century and enjoy considerable popularity on the vintage market.