Theo Ruth, who had studied furniture and interior design at what later became the Maastricht Academy of Arts, was Artifort’s first permanent designer and a pioneer of its design tradition.
Ruth joined Artifort in 1936, designing living-room furniture. By 1939, he was head of design and development, which he led until his death in 1971. Artifort came out of Wagemans & Van Tuinen, a company set up in 1890 in Maastricht by upholster Jules Wagemans, which was later expanded into a furniture factory and showroom in Amsterdam by his son, Henricus. ‘Artifort’ was introduced in 1928, combining art (‘ars’), strength (‘fortis’) and comfort. It has attracted many celebrated designers like Kho Liang Ie, Geoffrey Hardcourt, René Holten, Patrick Norguet, Michiel va der Kley, Pierre Paulin, who contributed key pieces to the collection.