In an August 14 interview, Knoll Design Director Benjamin Pardo discussed working from home, showcasing his collection of Ettore Sottsass objects and home office with Knoll + Muuto products. “A small portion of those finds, hunted down over past decades, can be glimpsed in Pardo’s home office in New York—he, like many of us, is currently working remotely,” writes AD Pro Editor Madeleine Luckel.
Read an excerpt from the interview:
AD: Why did you first start collecting Ettore Sottsass? And what is it that you’re most on the lookout for today?
BP: I actually met him a thousand years ago at a dinner party in Milan. I knew his work, and I always liked it—the political nature of it. It’s sort of exciting that architecture and design can be involved in something besides mass production and consumerism.
Eventually I felt the need to actually buy stuff. I started with his glass—that’s the largest part of the collection. There are also these amazing glass expression [Kochina head form] pieces. I only have one, but I covet them. The other things are these enamel-on-metal works. They are very hard to find because he did so few of them. I have Sottsass furniture too, but I’m trying to sell it at auction.
I’ve been a collector since I was a kid. I’m just maniacal about it. But as I get older, I realize that what I collect just has to be smaller [*laughs*]. I had 300 chairs at one point.
AD: What do you look for in a Sottsass piece?
BP: Geometry, color, and process. The contrasts in Sottsass’s work are also very important. It makes you stop and think. If you look at the totems and that stacking of forms, it’s almost pre-civilization.
My work [at Knoll] is very much about how to edit and how to understand proportion. If something feels wrong, your eyebrow goes up. Mediocrity defines excellence. And everything that I think is excellent fits into that question of proportion.
AD PRO: Do you feel that collecting continues to train your eye, as it relates to your work?
BP: Yes. Ultimately, I’m also responsible for spaces and the definition of interiors. So juxtaposing objects and materiality is a very important thing. Collecting also teaches you about design history, which I would like current design students to know more about. There aren’t very many things that are actually new. But to understand a brand and the context of that brand, one has to have a historical frame of reference. Collecting is very helpful in terms of being able to discern, because you’re looking at catalogs and at museum collections all the time.