Richard Schultz has long been an integral part of the Knoll story. After studying mechanical engineering and design at Iowa State University and the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, Schultz joined Knoll in 1951. His first assignment was to assist Harry Bertoia on the development and production of the Bertoia Wire Collection. This led to an 18-month assignment in Europe, establishing and supervising production of the Bertoia designs for Knoll subsidiaries and licensees. After returning to the U.S., he joined the Design Development Group at the Knoll factory in East Greenville, PA.
Richard Schultz Collection, 1966. Image from the Knoll Archive.
Schultz is best known for his outdoor furniture designs. His graceful Petal Table, introduced in 1960, received the design award from Industrial Design magazine. The steel wire-formed 715 Chaise Lounge, which was introduced the following year to complement the Bertoia collection, was selected in 1963 by the Museum of Modern Art for its permanent collection of contemporary furniture. After Florence Knoll moved to a seaside home in Florida, she started sending the design team rusty pieces of furniture, asking them to develop something that could perform in the salty climate. Schultz responded with the aluminum Leisure Collection in 1966.
1966 Collection on an outdoor patio. Image from the Knoll Archive.
After leaving Knoll, Schultz continued to have a successful career designing outdoor collections for his own studio. Knoll acquired Richard Schultz Design in 2012, enabling the re-release many of Schultz’s classic Knoll designs.