Remembering Charles Pollock
We are saddened to report the passing of renowned Knoll Designer Charles Pollock, whose 1960s executive chairs and side chairs represent some of the most iconic collaborations in Knoll's history. Philadelphia-born Pollock began his design education at Cass Technical High School in Detroit. He later won a scholarship to study at Pratt Institute from where he graduated in 1953. After serving in the United States Army for two years -- where he was art editor for INFANTRY Magazine -- Pollock worked with George Nelson at Herman Miller. In 1958 he left Nelson's office and seeded a fruitful relationship with Florence Knoll through to her retirement in 1965. Planning Unit Member Vincent Cafiero saw great promise in the designer and early prototypes of his 657 Lounge -- an elegant essay in leather, steel and plastic. Pollock's 1250 series -- an innovative collection of management chairs with a structural aluminum rim -- was an immediate classic and is still sold today.
As we remember Pollock's legacy, here is an excerpt from a late 1970s interview with the designer encapsulating his rigorous design philosophy:
You don’t make this arm shaped like that because it is beautiful just by itself. You are integrating an awful lot of different elements all at once. And that is what makes it what it is. … So to me the fascinating part of industrial design or furniture design is, that the very act of having an enormous amount of, what is it called, parameters. You just put so much in to each part that when you look at it, to me, it looks more like it belongs than a Picasso. A Picasso isn’t for anything; it is for the eye. I am not saying I am better than Picasso, but I am saying that this is a genuinely, completely cohesive way of working. I mean, you have got the strength in material, you have the way to attach it, you have the shape of it based on what it is attached to. You have the surface of the arm whereby it is wider so that you can put it on and it’s also shaped like this. I mean you just fiddle with it forever and run back and forth to the factory and talk to Mrs. Knoll forever until finally it just gels. Once again, it is a developmental system.