Honoring the cantilevered chairs of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, a forefather of Modernism, Marc Newson’s design, 90 years later, is a forward-looking expression that synthesizes simplicity, material and precision, in the Modernist tradition. The radical design reflects Newson’s fanaticism for the space age, as well as his belief that, “design is about improving things and about looking to the future, pushing technology forward.”
Defined by a single uninterrupted line, the design brings Marc Newson’s signature combination of organic forms and precision engineering to the Knoll seating portfolio. Echoing the futuristic vocabulary that characterizes his work, the side chair for Knoll marries hard and soft, solid and transparent, in a striking form that seems to levitate in space.
Commenting on his work for Knoll, Marc Newson said, “Knoll’s modernist tradition provided the launchpad to imagine a chair for twenty-first century working and living.”
Newson and Benjamin Pardo, Knoll Design Director, agreed that a new side chair for Knoll would honor the aesthetic principles that inform the existing portfolio of Knoll Seating, specifically the cantilevered designs.
Newson and Pardo revisited several Knoll designs, starting with Mies van der Rohe’s Brno Chair. Celebrated for its lean profile and simple details, the Brno Chair reflects the groundbreaking simplicity of its original locale – the Tugendhat House in Brno, Czech Republic, designed by Mies.
While the Brno Chair served as a catalyst for the exploration, it was ultimately the 1928 Tugendhat Chair that most inspired Newson’s final design. Pardo explained, “Newson’s Aluminum Chair really pays tribute to Mies’s Tugendhat Chair, employing a similar reverse cantilever. This reverse cantilever evokes a visual weightlessness and renders an incredibly simple profile, where the seat floats effortlessly and is joined to the back via the legs of the chair.”
“We wanted to reimagine the tubular steel construction revolutionized at the Bauhaus–which is transitively tied to Knoll–with Newson’s unique ability to imagine organic, almost futuristic shapes,” Pardo recalled.
With this in mind, Newson forwent tubular steel in favor of cast aluminum, a material he felt allowed for a more dynamic form. The chair consists of three high-pressure castings–a main frame and two end caps–which connect to create a remarkably simple, yet structurally sound frame. To Newson’s liking, the complexity of the engineering is made invisible through mechanical precision and streamlined design.
The mesh seat and back integrate seamlessly with the frame, further emphasizing the chair’s visual purity. To evoke a more residential feel, Newson selected a mesh that is tightly knit and is softer to the touch.
The Newson Aluminum Chair is offered in combinations of three frame colors: black, warm white, and grey; and six mesh colors: black, grey, blue, red, yellow, and white. In addition, the stacking chair has two versions: arm and armless.
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