Dutch furniture manufacturer Galvanitas has remained family-owned since Willem Thuring first opened his nickel- and chrome-plating metalworks in the southern part of the Netherlands in 1934. In the years surrounding World War II, Galvanitas expanded its production to include mechanical metal furniture, like hospital beds and barber chairs. Paul Thuring, Willem’s son, took over in the late forties and introduced school furniture to the company’s product line—a decision that proved highly rewarding following the war. A vast proportion of Dutch schools used Galvanitas steel-and-plywood chairs in their classrooms through the end of the 20th century and beyond. Now synonymous with solid and durable construction, the company helped to establish the utilitarian style that defined midcentury modernism in the Netherlands.

Galvanitas’s classic Model S16 school chair was produced in the late 1950s and the early 1960s. Made of folded steel and German Pagholtz plywood—sturdy, practical, and inexpensive—it was designed for heavy use in public buildings, including schools, institutions, hospitals, and dining halls. Thanks to its minimalist, industrial look, the S16 has found renewed popularity, and since 2014 is again in production by De Machinekamer, a young Dutch company that specializes in restoring and selling vintage furniture.

In 1990, Galvanitas passed to the next generation when Willem’s grandson, Paul Thuring, joined the company. Today they continue to produce all manner of functional, metal furniture.