Dutch designer Gerard van den Berg (b. 1947) is known for his radical take on traditional Dutch furniture. Paving the way for a Dutch design renaissance, van den Berg’s designs became an important resource for the promotion of Dutch furniture abroad.
During his formative years, van den Berg apprenticed in his father’s furniture company located in Hellevoetsluis. It was here he was able to hone his craft while developing his technical skills. During this time he also attended a vocational course in furniture production at the technical secondary school in Rotterdam.
In 1974, van den Berg left his father’s company, and in co-operation with his brother Ton, the pair founded Montis. With a mission to design comfortable, yet modern furniture. Van den Berg’s designs for Montis challenged the classic forms of Dutch furniture. His seating especially shows a tension between the design and the material chosen, as he often manipulated upholstery and leather into slim and elegant forms, that he would often pair with angular metal legs. Van den Berg’s designs were informed by the material itself, rather than being dictated by the frame. In 1983, Montis introduced a revolutionary idea for upholstering, known as the Jacket technique. The innovative idea consisted of a leather cover that could be zipped around a metal frame. The Chaplin Chair (1983) was the first of its kind to employ such a technique and became an instant classic. Other notable designs include the Mantis Lounge Chair (1970), Butterfly Lounge Chair (1980s), and Rocky Sofa (1981).
In the 1980s, Montis gained in popularity in the United States, the Middle East, and Asia. Van den Berg designed for Montis until 1990, when he left the company.
In 1989, van den Berg opened his own eponymous design studio and, in 1991, established LABEL, a company that places emphasis on comfort as well as informality in its seating designs. Apart from furniture design, van den Berg also created lighting and the interior of exhibition spaces and offices.
Over the course of his career, van den Berg received several prestigious awards, including the Kho Liang Prize (1984), the Mobilia Innovation Award (1990), the Prize for Interior Architecture (1991) and the award for the best Dutch Furniture Design (1984 and 1997).