Ideas + Inspiration

The 50th Anniversary of Richard Schultz’s 1966 Collection

It’s been 50 years since Richard Schultz’s 1966 Collection of modern outdoor furniture for Knoll was first introduced. The collection has not only proven it can withstand the elements, but the test of time. 

Modern Outdoor Furniture |YLiving
Left- Richard Schultz, 1966. Image via the Knoll Archive. Right- Richard Schultz, 2013. Photograph by Ilan Rubin

Schultz originally studied mechanical engineering and design at Iowa State University and the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago before diving into his true passion: Furniture. And after an interview with Florence Knoll, that true passion became a successful reality for him.

Modern Outdoor Furniture |YLiving
An excerpt from a letter by Richard Schultz, 1968. via the Knoll Archive

After working with Henry Bertoia for the 1952 debut of the Bertoia collection, Richard Schultz traveled to Europe to work on the continued production of the Bertoia chairs. It wasn’t until 1958 that a new frontier of furniture was open wide to Schultz: Modern Outdoor Furniture. And not just any modern outdoor furniture, but furniture that was built to withstand the elements, that would never rust or fade, and that was both practical and aesthetic.

Modern Outdoor Furniture |YLiving
Clockwise- 1966 Contour Chaise, 1966 Adjustable Chaise (upright), 1966 Adjustable Chaise (reclined), 1966 Lounge Chair and Coffee Table

It took long hours of field testing and working with a small team, but soon the Leisure Collection– now the 1966 Collection– was born. It was a labor of love that resulted in the development and pioneering of new modern outdoor furniture. The 1966 Collection wasn’t built like it’s corrosion prone predecessors.

1966 Chaise,
1966 Adjustable Chaise1966 Contour Chaise, 1966 Dining Chair, 1966 Dining Chair with Arms 

Instead of the ornate iron and steel beasts that rusted away in the elements, the 1966 Collection featured aluminum frames that were coated in layers of plastic paint, creating for the first time outdoor furniture that was both maintenance-free and rust-proof. Add on the nylon-Dacron fabric for the chairs that is quick-drying and porous and it became the dawn of low-maintenance and stylish modern outdoor furniture.

Modern Outdoor Furniture |YLiving
1966 Collection® Dining Chair By Richard Schultz, from Knoll

The 1966 Collection was recieved as “a breath of fresh air” and we couldn’t agree more. The collection remains as popular and contemporary 50 years later as it was in 1966. To accompany the chairs Schultz designed matching tables. Equally resilient to the elements, the inset table tops are made of porcelain enamel, allowing pools of water to drain rather than sit and ruin the surface overtime.

1966 Collections |YLiving
1966 Collection® Dining Chair with Arms By Richard Schultz, from Knoll

Innovative for the time, it was the refining and careful consideration of each element that allows the 1966 Collection to maintain its fresh appearance. Originally only offered in white, red-orange, yellow, blue or brown, now a rainbow of options are available to choose from.

Rachel Kemp

Rachel Kemp

Rachel is one of the Merchandise Managers for YLiving with a long career in merchandising and is thrilled to finally be working through a channel that supports her passion for modern design. As a mother of two toddlers, she is practical, design driven in her decisions with furnishing her home and tempted daily with the endless options of home upgrades.

Use #YintheWild to show us your modern space. VIEW GALLERY