Honoring the cantilevered chairs of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, a forefather of Modernism, Newson’s design, 90 years later, is a forward-looking expression that synthesizes simplicity, material and precision, in the Modernist tradition.
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.
“From an historical context, working with a company like Knoll is a loaded mission in a sense, because the history that it’s been a part of is simply far more profound than nearly any other company out there. I felt from a personal perspective that it was important to pay homage, to incorporate that fact, that provenance, into the design that I was doing.”
“ I would call the design distinctly modern, yet I’ve chosen this cantilevered methodology because, not only do I find it personally compelling, but it also harks back to that a piece of history ” ……………….Marc Newson
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. 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” ……………….. Benjamin Pardo ( Knoll Design Director )
“ The mesh is kind of a contemporary version of Marcel Breuer’s 1928 Cesca’s chair ( the worlds’ first-ever bent tubular steel chair ) but most recognizable for its cane seat and back – a striking organic foil to the polished steel frame. ” ………. Benjamin Pardo
Marc Newson’st attention to detail—the specialty mesh, developed after consultations with a number of producers, the exacting precision of the cantilever, the attention to the shadow the chair would cast—that ties the chair back into its history, which is an ongoing one.
The Newson Aluminum Chair is simultaneously a celebration of Knoll’s indelible legacy and a showstopping statement of the radical forms for which Newson has become known.
Newson brings the cantilevered form of the Bauhaus chairs—already ahead of their time—into the 21st century with a custom-created mesh seat and a three-part cast-aluminum frame whose precise manufacturing makes for a shape that appears spring-loaded, ready to take flight at any moment.
Though the Knoll team has been working with Newson on this design for several years, the roots of the Newson Aluminum Chair stretch much further than that—to the tail end of the Bauhaus and the cantilevered Brno chair designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich for the Tugendhat House in 1930.
Tugendhat chairs in their namesake villa in Brno, Czech Republic.
He is also continuing a legacy that began way before his time: In their designs of the Brno, Tugendhat, and earlier MR20 chair, van der Rohe and Reich were themselves riffing on earlier cantilevered designs by the Dutch architect and designer Mart Stam.
Design aficionados might also see similarities to another iconic cantilevered seat by a different Bauhaus modernist: Marcel Breuer.
“ I think of furniture in many ways as a piece of jewelry. Furniture has a similar relationship to the body as jewelry in that neither can really work without a body.
They’re only whole with a person, and they are also very specific inventions by humans not necessarily out of necessity. We could all sit on the floor, and no one needs to wear jewelry.
So although, they’re different in terms of scale and material, they bear a lot of similarity, and I apply the same level of obsession to a chair as I do to a piece of jewelry. Just because it’s bigger doesn’t mean it’s dealt with using broader strokes. ” ……………. Marc Newson
“The design has got to make sense within the context of the brand,” Newson says. “Knoll has quite a rich history in terms of the designs which still exist. All these historical works are still in production so one can only hope that in 50 years I can say the same thing. Very simply, for a designer, it’s wonderful to be in the company of such renowned designers and architects, and I wanted to celebrate that.” ………………… Marc Newson
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
About Marc Newson
Marc Newson has been described as one of the most influential designers of his generation.