David Rowland studied at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, where Charles and Ray Eames, Florence Knoll, Harry Bertoia, as well as Eero Saarinen attended school. Early in his career, Rowland trained with both Lazlo Moholy-Nagy, the great Bauhaus emigre, and Norman Bel Geddes, the innovative American designer who streamlined industrial design and its production process. This unique combination of sophisticated European avant-garde modern design and American technical know-how allowed Rowland to create some of the most unique and comfortable seating produced.
After opening his own office in 1954, David Rowland pursued numerous experiments in minimal seating with the goal of accomodating large numbers of people. These exercises culminated with the much lauded 40/4 Chair, designed in 1963 and was immediately awarded the grand prize at the prestigous Milan Triennale the next year. Designed as a solution for flexible, stackable seating and executed with a graphic sleekness, 40 chairs can be stacked in a four-foot high space.
David Rowland went on to design numerous other chairs that satisfy the rigorous demands of mass production while retaining a high level of design sophistication, but the 40/4 chair has never been surpassed, by Rowland or others.