Charles Pollock, creator of the iconic Pollock Executive Chair, died in a fire at his Queens, New York, studio. He was 83.
Born in Philadelphia, Pollock studied at Cass Technical High School in Michigan before graduating from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. After being drafted into the United States Army, Pollock became the art director of Infantry magazine, and taught art classes at the military base. Upon his return, Pollock first worked for product and interior designer Donald Deskey, known for his design of Radio City Music Hall. Pollock then reunited with industrial designer George Nelson, whom he had first met while still a student. Alongside Nelson, he created the Swag Leg Armchair for Herman Miller in 1958.
Pollock then presented a portfolio of designs to Florence Knoll, who saw his potential, and in 1961 he unveiled the 657 Lounge, an elegant sling chair in leather, steel, and plastic. But it was the 1250 series executive collection for Knoll that put him on the map. The now-classic Pollock Executive Chair employed an aluminum rim that outlined the chair as the main structural and design element.
The Pollock Executive Chair
The rim held the parts—including the leather upholstery—in place without any further support, and became the chair's signature aesthetic. Pollock's chair, which has been exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Louvre in Paris, is still produced by Knoll today.
"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," Pollock said about his designs in a late-1970s interview. "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."
In 1982, Pollock designed the Penelope chair for Haworth under the Castelli brand, celebrated as the first chair to feature a “knee tilt” effect.
The Penelope Chair
Most recently, furniture manufacturer Bernhardt Design commissioned him to create the CP Lounge Collection. It debuted in 2012 as Pollock’s first new product for an American company in 47 years.
CP Lounge Collection for Bernhardt Design