Charles Pollock

USA (1930–2013)

Charles Pollock is best known for the Pollock Executive Chair, which was introduced in 1963 and remains one of the most recognizable and successful office chairs ever. It became an instant sensation upon release, at a time when many corporate offices began to reflect a sleek, modern aesthetic. The chair is ingeniously constructed with an aluminum rim that structurally and visually unifies the tufted seat and back.

Born in Philadelphia, Pollock moved as a teen with his family to Detroit, where he was exposed to art and design at Cass Technical High School. He went on to receive a full scholarship to the Pratt Institute in New York and studied sketching and model making. While visiting Pratt one day, designer George Nelson saw a sculpture of Pollock’s that he admired. Pollock later gave Nelson the sculpture as a gift – a portent of exciting things to come.

Pollock eventually took a job working for Nelson in New York and contributed to the development of the Swag Leg Collection, which became known for its innovative use of tubular steel legs after being 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, Florence Knoll discovered his designs and began paying Pollock a small monthly salary, which he put toward rent and product development. The Pollock Executive Chair came as a result of that relationship with Knoll.

After the 1960s, Pollock disappeared from the forefront of American furniture design, spending time in Europe sculpting and painting. He was thrust back into the limelight in 2012 with the introduction of his CP Lounge Chair, which he designed after being wooed by Jerry Helling of Bernhardt Design.

That same year, at the age of 81, he talked to The New York Times about his philosophy of designing chairs. “When you have a chair,” he said, “it’s like a sculpture of a person. It’s alive. It’s big. You can’t miss it. It’s a ‘look at me!’ item.” Pollock’s work is exhibited in museums throughout the world, where it undoubtedly calls out to viewers, “Look at me!”

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