Frederick Parker To Parker Knoll

Last year when visiting the Second Sitters Exhibition at The Cass, I was lucky enough to get access into their archive of chairs on loan by the Federick Parker Foundation. At the time I thought I would save the pictures for a future post, and then – of course – I forgot…only to be reminded recently after purchasing a 1959 Parker Knoll Chair. I thought I would share these pics and their fabulous history.

Upholstery Parker Knoll

2. Some of the different style of chairs on view

The exhibition is a collection of over 170 chairs acquired by Frederick Parker spanning over the last 350 years.

Upholstery Parker Knoll

3. Some of the earlier chairs in collection with beautiful carvings

Upholstery Parker Knoll

4. Deep buttoning with fabric and leather

Upholstery Parker Knoll

5. A couple of Claw Feet

With the help of his sons, Parker built a substantial business which supplied ocean liners, country houses and palaces. Parker was a strong believer in learning from the masters and purchased chairs to study how they were made and put together.  His original business, registered in 1901, was the result of years of study looking into furniture building of the past and hands on experience working as an apprentice for his father.

Upholstery Parker Knoll

6. View of the ‘traditional’ approach to upholstery demonstrating how well these chairs were made.

In 1929, one of his sons met Willi Knoll from Stuttgart who was trying to sell a new tension spring, they liked it so much they collaborated and in 1931 a new brand called the Parker Knoll was launched.

Upholstery Parker Knoll
7. Parker Knoll Manufactured in 1959 I purchased recently, ready to be upholstered.

What was really evident in viewing this collection was the attention to detail. Where the chairs had started to decay after many years of use they were still held together by their mastered upholstery techniques, showing that good upholstery, really does hold the test of time.


About Vicky Grubb

Once a kitchen table Upholsterer, now a fully fledged tutor, author and hoarder of vintage fabrics. My Upholstery studio is based in Bournemouth, Dorset, where I live with my husband and two tinkers.

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