Design

Charles Pollock’s Last Collection

It seemed like the designer’s heyday had come and gone with the Midcentury Modern style of the 1960s–until Bernhardt’s Jerry Helling pulled him from obscurity.

Photo: Courtesy Bernhardt Design.

“The day I met Charles Pollock, he gave me a painting,” says Jerry Helling, Bernhardt Design’s president and creative director. The composition—a depiction of the Brooklyn Bridge, rendered by Pollock in thick blobs of paint—brings Helling back to the moment it all began. Despite having designed a popular Midcentury chair in 1965, Pollock had fallen off the map, unheard from until Helling sought him out in 2010. They soon became close professional collaborators, as well as friends. For the next three years, the pair worked together on various projects. A couch and a club chair, conceived for the brand’s Finale collection, seem to merge 1950s rigidity with contemporary sinuosity, their unbroken cushions appearing to float above a steel frame. But when Pollock died, in 2013, his designs for Bernhardt became his last. The completed items for the Finale collection debuted in January, along with updated versions of chairs and tables done separately in 2012 and 2013. Helling sighs heavily when asked about Pollock’s swan song—his finale, as it were. “It’s very simple, not incredibly demanding furniture,” he says. “It’s got that lasting essence. It doesn’t feel dated, and I don’t think it ever will.”

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