The Platner Armchair by Warren Platner for Knoll International

Platner chair
Platner chair
Classic Designs » Mid Century Design » The Platner Armchair by Warren Platner for Knoll International

The Platner Armchair

If you want a chair that exudes modern glamour, one with all the curves and padding in the right places, a Marilyn Monroe of chairs, look no further than a chair from architect, interior and product designer Warren Platner.

You might remember seeing these chairs with matching tables near the end of the 2008 film Quantum of Solace, where Dominic Greene and James Bond fight it out. 

Bond runs through the dining space as it blows up, leaving a shattered group of glass tables and metal and leather chairs flying around in the background. 

The chairs and table were picked for their composition. As in the film hundreds of rods with the near to a thousand welds go flying around the room in a spectacular fashion.

As a boy, Platner liked to make birdhouses and sculptures. He studied at Cornell University graduating in 1941 with a degree in architecture, and went on to work with Raymond Loewy, Eero Saarinen and I. M. Pei before opening his own practice. 

While so many of his compatriots were moulding plastics, Platner saw a gap in the market for something more glamorous.

He felt there was room for the kind of decorative, gentle, graceful kind of design that appeared in period style like Louis XV’ 

Questioning why the chair’s support should be separate from its seat. He envisioned the sitter, chair and stand as one. ‘I thought, why separate support from the object. Just make it all one thing. It starts at the floor and comes up and envelops me and supports me.

What I wanted to achieve was a chair that, number one, was complementary to the person sitting in it, or to the person in the space between the wall and the chair’ he once said.  

Platner welded his curved, nickel-plated steel rods to circular frames which sculpturally served as structure and ornament on both the lounge and armchair, as the steel rods allowed the viewer to see the coloured padding from every angle of the chair, even when someone was sitting in it. 

Visually it looked like ‘a shiny sheath of wheat’ according to Knoll International’s catalogue at the time

The Don Draper of interiors in the mid-sixties, Platner believed in designing from within and then moving outwards, rather than the other way around, and with this concept he bagged the most influential brands. 

He won great acclaim with his interiors for Ford Foundation headquarters, worked with Raymond Loewy, Eero Saarinen and Kevin Roche and is especially remembered for the interiors of JFK airports iconic TWA terminal that he designed  with Saarinen. 

He put Georg Jensen on the map with the Georg Jensen Design Center, using the kinds of glass partitions and projections only theatre designers had used up until then.  

Platner also won one of New York’s top inte rior jobs of 1976, the glamorous Windows on the World restaurant, which Paul Goldberger, then architecture critic of the New York Times described as an example of  ‘sensuous modernism with its lush interior, subdued paste  fabric-covered walls and brass railings’. 

But its the wire collection of tables. Chairs and sofa that really made his name among the public at large.

The Platner armchair has been in continuous production since Its inception, and like the Cherner Armchair, has become a design that Americans are justly proud of.

Written by Simon
I am a published writer, journalist and photo-journalist. I have an MA in Creative Writing and Journalism from the University of Wales and my journalism has been published in a number of UK national newspapers including 'the Observer'. I have life long interest in creative design, art and function and this website is an exploration of that in all its forms and guises.