Design Icon: Richard Schultz, Master of Modern Outdoor Furniture
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It’s safe to say that before Richard Schultz, outdoor furniture pieces were little more than the poor country cousins of indoor furniture sophisticates—on whom, it seemed, designers were destined to spend their entire reserves of beauty, elegance, and innovation. A midwesterner who studied mechanical engineering and design, Schultz, arguably, put modern outdoor furniture on the map, thanks to Knoll, who hired him in 1951 to assist Harry Bertoia with the production of the Bertoia Wire Collection. His first Knoll design was the Petal Table collection, a whimsical silhouette that fused flowery prettiness with a modernist’s penchant for refinement.
Introduced by Knoll in 1960, the Petal Table collection—which included coffee table, dining table, and side table—translated the blooms of the flowering plant, Queen Anne’s Lace, into a table with stem-like pedestal base and tabletop comprised of 8 separate petal-like elements. An instant award-winner, and now a Mid Century classic, the original Knoll Petal collection’s white powder coated aluminum base and teak or synthetic white tabletop, has been given a 21st Century refresh, with the introduction of six new—and fittingly happy—colorsways.
When Florence Knoll asked Richard Schultz to design outdoor furniture that, rather than rust, remain impervious to the salt air of her Florida seaside home, Schultz responded with another Mid Century classic: the Knoll 1966 Collection, which once and for all became the benchmark for modernist outdoor furniture. Comprised of seating, tables, and the best-selling 1966 Adjustable Chaise Lounge, the 1966 Collection leveraged the typology of Mid Century design—visual clarity, innovative materials, and the blurring of indoor and outdoor—for a furniture range with all the refinement typically reserved for living rooms and dining rooms. To mark the 50th Anniversary of the 1966 Collection, Knoll has added a choice of 6 new colorways to the collection’s original white, powder coated aluminum frames, visually connecting Richard Schultz’s two most celebrated designs for the company.