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Remembering ID alum Richard Schultz, celebrated furniture designer

His 1966 Adjustable Chaise for Knoll is still in production today

By Andrew Connor

Richard Schultz (DSGN ’50), an inventive industrial designer who worked at Knoll, one of the world’s leading furniture manufacturers, and an Institute of Design alumnus, has passed away at the age of 95, reports the New York Times.

Schultz came to Chicago in the late 1940s to study at the Institute of Design, which had been founded by László Moholy-Nagy just a few years prior. Following his graduation, he began work for Knoll, founded by fellow Illinois Institute of Technology graduate Florence Knoll (ARCH ’41), who studied at the College of Architecture. 

According to the Times, Schultz took a hands-on, technique-driven approach to the creation of some of the company’s most celebrated outdoor furniture, including the 1966 Adjustable Chaise: a clean, minimalist design made from plastic that could endure the outdoors. The chair is still in production today.

Schultz’s designs were driven by materials exploration, an approach very much rooted in Moholy-Nagy’s experimental curriculum at ID, which prioritized boundless hands-on experimentation and creativity with different mediums. 

“‘Form follows technique’ is more of a governing idea than ‘form follows function,’” Schultz wrote in Form Follows Technique: A Design Manifesto, published in 2019. “If comfort is a given, then what controls form is the choice of materials and technique.”

Read more about the life and career of Schultz at the New York Times.

Image from Knoll Archives.

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