Knoll Classics Sale Takes Flight with Bertoia’s Bird Lounge Chair and Ottoman

If the forward-thinking design/build behemoth known as Knoll is familiar to you only as a manufacturer of avant-garde ergonomic office products like the superlatively comfortable and commodious Generation Chair, it might be time for a bit of a history lesson. The East Greenville, Pennsylvania-based company has been at the forefront of the modern office for 70 odd years now. This impressive longevity means that—since 1938, no less—Knoll has been behind many of the savviest designs by some of the most iconic designers.

Bertoia’s Bird Lounge Chair and Ottoman. Designed by Harry Bertoia for Knoll.

Recognized the world over as a leader of the industry, Knoll’s products appear in art museums from Paris to Portland, from Tangiers to Timbuktu, and especially in the MOMA (40 pieces in the permanent collection at last count). All this means that when they announce a Classics Sale, the purist in you better sit up and take notice, because a Knoll Classic is the very definition of the term. So if I’ve got your attention now, know that the event begins today and runs through Saturday at the Knoll New York Showroom. As your virtual tour guide, the first item I’d like to offer for your perusal is the Bertoia Bird Lounge Chair and Ottoman.




Italian-born, Michigan-bred Harry Bertoia earned his chops as a sculptor before moving on to what would seem to have been his ideal medium—metal crafts. As he taught the discipline at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, he began to coin a language all his own—that of the industrial wire rod as a structural and aesthetic design element. The look was a palpable influence on his generation, impressing Knoll regulars like Warren Platner and Eero Saarinen (who commissioned Bertoia to design a metal screen for GM’s Technical Center in Detroit). The long and leggy Bird Lounge Chair partakes generously of Bertoia’s work with welded metal: both frame and base are constructed of artfully-bent steel rods. The scratch, chip, and chemical-resistant bases are available in a variety of finishes (black, white, and polished chrome), and the replaceable, full-cover upholstery for both chair back and ottoman comes outfitted as you desire—from among the multitude of Knoll’s signature textiles.

So if you happen to be within a day’s drive of 76 Ninth Avenue (at 15th st.), take the elevator straight to the eleventh floor and request your 15% discount (and free delivery) on the seminal achievement that is Bertoia’s Bird Lounger. And while you’re at it, don’t deign to sample some of the other classic Knoll wares. In addition to more pieces by Bertoia (Diamond Lounge Seating and the Asymmetric Chaise, among others), there will be a roster replete with work by mid-century masters. The list reads like a who’s-who of modern design: Marcel Breuer (he of Bauhaus fame, circa 1925, and the world’s first chair made of tubular steel—Wassily); Florence Knoll, whose 1954 Lounge Collection defined the idiom of clean lines and capitonné; Mies van der Rohe, whose Barcelona Collection marries the subtle sweep of stainless steel with hand-cut leather panels to establish the “pure compositional structure that now epitomizes Modern architecture”; Jens Risom, author of the Collaborative Space Dining and Side Tables, whose clean, light aesthetic helped bring Scandinavian Design front and center; and Eero Saarinen, whose Womb and Tulip designs brought a bold new sculptural sweep to both home and office.

If the aforementioned line-up (and it’s really just a taste of the offerings) doesn’t satisfy your yen for the crème de la crème of vintage design, there’s really no helping you. If, however, you’re among the legions of highly-enthused aficionados who feel that a Knoll Classics Sale hits all the right notes, it’s certainly your lucky day (and week). So get down there and grab a vintage Risom, or van der Rohe, or Breuer, or Saarinen. Or grab one of each, starting with Bertoia’s Bird Lounge.

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