Peter Schultz presented the 1966 Collection designed by his father, Richard Schultz, who was also present. The 1966 Collection is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
Knoll hosted the Annual ICFF Retailer Breakfast in the New York Showroom on Monday, May 16, 2016, with special guests Richard Schultz and his son Peter Schultz on the occasion of the 1966 Collection's 50th Anniversary. Richard Schultz designed the collection—then known as the Leisure Collection—in 1966, and it remains the industry standard in outdoor furniture.
Peter Schultz spoke movingly of his mother, Trudy Schultz, who recently passed away, remembering that his father had met his future wife at Knoll early in both of their careers. Hans Knoll hired the future Trudy Schultz in 1950; she joined the legendary Planning Unit, designing corporate interiors under the direction of Florence Knoll. Richard Schultz, meanwhile, began his career at Knoll as an assistant to Harry Bertoia, who was then developing the wire Bertoia Collection.
As Richard Schultz described at the breakfast presentation, he had originally intended to quit Knoll after the assignment, dreaming of a life in Europe with his new wife. But Hans Knoll persuaded Schultz to visit Europe as a Knoll employee: the company needed to increase production of the Bertoia Collection, and Schultz, having worked closely on the design with Bertoia, was uniquely qualified to figure out how.
"There were only two or three of us who knew how to make Bertoia chairs in those days," Schultz explained, "because Bertoia had invented this method. He made the chairs, but how do you make them in production? We didn't know. So we learned about welding and all these other techniques that now are the way the chairs are made. It was a great experience for me."
Schultz would have the opportunity to develop his own designs. Knoll first commissioned the Petal Collection, inspired by Queen Anne's Lace wildflowers, to pair with the Bertoia Collection. As Peter Schultz explained, his father first attempted the tables' signature star-shaped base in wire to match Bertoia's pieces, but the approach was eventually scrapped in favor of a crisper silhouette in cast aluminum. The material decision would inform Schultz's standard-setting work on the Leisure Collection—the direct answer to Florence Knoll's personal call for furniture that could withstand Florida's salt air. The Leisure Collection would go on to inform other areas of the industry besides outdoor furniture; Schultz's innovative structural use of mesh fabric over a frame is now a familiar technique in chair design, used in outdoor pieces as well as in ergonomic work seating.
The audience was also treated to a number of intimate family photographs of the Schultz home in Pennsylvania. Many of these photographs included early prototypes (some never saw production) of pieces that Richard Schultz designed for Knoll.
Learn more about Richard Schultz and the 1966 Collection's 50th Anniversary on Inspiration.
Richard Schultz, left, and his son Peter Schultz in conversation at the Knoll New York Showroom on Monday, May 18, 2016.
Richard Schultz speaks with Melinda Rynasko, Marketing Director, KnollStudio, before the Annual ICFF Retailer Breakfast. They are seated in Two-Tone Bertoia Diamond Chairs.