Remembering Charles Pollock, 1930–2013.
Famed designer Charles Pollock, distinguished by a modern interpretation of the office chair, has passed. Pollock was perhaps best known for his eponymous Pollock Executive Chair, which surfaced at a time in the 1960s when many corporate offices were beginning to embrace a sleek, modern aesthetic. The chair was an instant sensation upon release and went on to become one of the most recognizable and successful office chairs ever. Featuring ingeniously simple construction, it’s marked by an aluminum rim that supports the seat and back both structurally and visually.
Charles Pollack was born in Philadelphia in 1930. After moving to Detroit with his family as a teen, he enrolled in Cass Technical High School, where he was exposed to art and design. He excelled at Cass and received a full scholarship to the School of Art and Design at Pratt Institute in New York. It was there that Pollock became skilled in the disciplines of sketching and model-making. While visiting Pratt one afternoon, designer George Nelson happened to come upon a sculpture of Pollock’s that he admired. Pollock later presented Nelson with that very same sculpture as a gift – a portent of exciting things to come.
Pollock soon took a job working for Nelson in New York, contributing to development of the Swag Leg Collection, introduced by Herman Miller in 1958. Building on the success of Swag, Pollock struck out on his own to open a studio in Brooklyn. Two years later, after taking note of his designs, Florence Knoll began paying Pollock a small monthly salary that he put toward rent and product development. The Pollock Executive Chair came to fruition in 1963 as a result of that relationship.
Pollock was the recipient of many awards, including the IBD Bronze Medal and Pratt Institute’s Excellence by Design Award, and his work is exhibited in museums throughout the world.