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Designer of Famous Office Chair Returns to the Scene


Charles Pollock designed the Pollock Executive Chair in 1963, a chair so popular, it’s still a bestselling product from Knoll. Prior to that, he created the 1958 Swag Leg Armchair for Herman Miller, another popular design that many consider a classic. In 1982, he cemented his status as a superstar of corporate design by developing the Penelope chair for Castelli. And then he disappeared from office furniture design for over 30 years.

Many people assumed he was dead. But not Jerry Helling, president of Bernhardt Design, who remembered Pollock’s creations and longed to convince him to create a new office chair for his company.

After narrowing down a field of 30 possible Charles Pollocks, Helling discovered the erstwhile furniture designer living in New York, where he had been concentrating on sculpture and painting since a chair he created for Olivetti failed to launch because of the company’s financial problems.

Helling convinced Pollock to develop the CP Lounge Chair. It debuted this weekend at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair at New York’s Javits Convention Center.

Unlike previous designs, which were tweaked in a series of prototypes, the CP Lounge Chair was developed entirely on paper, a process that Pollock said he preferred. The previous way, he said, was “too much work. Especially as you get older.” (Pollock is now 81.)

The final design was “more fluid” than his original drawings, Pollock said. At Helling’s request, he revised the design to make it more free flowing. The entire process took only one year, as opposed to the Pollock Executive Chair, which took five.

Of the final result, he said, “I like it — this chair has an upholstered rim, which is the neatest-looking thing you ever saw.”

Here’s hoping it’s another instant classic.

Image: The New York Times

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