|David Lincoln Rowland|
Los Angeles, California, United States
|Died||13th August, 2010
|Awards||Grand Prix, Milan Triennale for '40/4 Chair'(1964)
Austrian Gold Medal Award for Furniture (1969)
|Buildings||St Paul's Cathedral
David Lincoln Rowland (February 12, 1924 – August 13, 2010) was an American industrial designer who is best known for the 40/4 chair he created in the late 1950s, a stacking chair so named because 40 chairs can be stored in a stack 4 feet (120 cm) high, with sales in the millions.
David Rowland was born on February 12, 1924, in Los Angeles. An only child, his mother was a violinist while his father was an artist who served as art director of the Haggin Museum in Stockton, California. Rowland began his studies in 1940 under László Moholy-Nagy. After these studies, he joined US Air Force as a pilot - he served in the European Theater of Operations with the United States Army Air Forces during World War II.
After completing his military service, Rowland started studying again and in 1949 earned his BA degree in Physics from Principia College. Following graduation, he also was awarded a master's degree of Fine Arts in Industrial Design from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan.
Finally, Rowland moved to Manhattan where he found work with the man considered being the first American industrial designer - Norman Bel Geddes. Working on his own in a low-rent apartment in Upper Manhattan he went through dozens of designs and prototypes of a chair that could be stored in a minimum of space. Rowland's ambition was to redefine chair design - make a chair which could be viewed as a piece of sculptural architecture, possess extreme functionality, and have mass appeal.
The 40/4 chair
By 1951, Rowland demonstrated a model of the chair with seating surfaces only one quarter of an inch thick, described by The Christian Science Monitor as a "transparent chair". He finally created a design for a replacement for the stacking chair that he first called the "40 in 4 chair", a wire-framed chair with a sculpted seat and back that got its name from the ability to nest 40 of the chairs in a stack four feet high which would occupy 20 cubic feet (0.57 m3) of space.
In 1964, David Rowland's 40/4 chair finally went into production, after almost a decade of development and struggles to find a company who would manufacture and sell it. It took eight years before he was finally able to find a buyer interested in purchasing the chair, when Skidmore, Owings and Merrill ordered 17,000 of the chairs on behalf of the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle (now the University of Illinois at Chicago), selling a steel and plastic version of the chair for $16 each.
The chair took off, earning critical recognition in winning the grand prize at the Milan Triennale and was included in the Museum of Modern Art's (MoMA) permanent collection. It was recognized by the American Institute of Interior Designers in 1965. As of 2010[update], the chair was manufactured by OSI Furniture in the U.S. to the North American market and by Howe Furniture in Denmark to the rest of the world. Selling for $175 to nearly $300 per unit, the chair has seen use at St Paul's Cathedral for the Wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Lady Diana Spencer and on submarines of the United States Navy.
Rowland continuously worked with development of the 40/4 chair, and the year 2000 was the first year the new improved versions became development projects in cooperation with Danish contract furniture manufacturer Howe a/s. Nowadays 40/4 chair family consists of: original side chair, armchair, lounge chair, barstool, outdoor chair and swivel-base chair.
To summarize, the 40/4 chair is lauded as the first truly stackable chair, and its name is an expression of that fact: 40 chairs can be stacked within 4 feet. It is a minimalistic construction, built originally with a sheet metal seat and back. The chair was an instant success, and since then, 8 million chairs have been produced and sold. The reasons why there has never been a slow-down in the popularity of 40/4 chair are timeless design, flexibility, comfort which is not for only 30 minutes time limits, and precision and purpose. 
- 1964 Grand Prix, Milan Triennale for '40/4 Chair'
- 1965 Best Piece of Business Furniture award from American Institute of Designers (AID)
- 1965 Product Engineering Magazine award for '40/4' chair as one of 12 best products introduced in the USA in 1965
- 1969 Austrian Gold Medal Award for Furniture
- 1971 Obtained patent application on Soflex®, a new development of thin resilient seating material
- 1979 Gold Medal for Best Product of entire competition from Institute of Business Designers (IBD)
- 1979 Gold Medal for Best Product in Special Seating category from Institute Of Business Designers (IBD)
- 1980 International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID) Exhibition, Milan, Italy
- 1984 Design in America: The Cranbrook Vision
- 1992 '40/4 Chair' recognized by Metropolis (architecture magazine) as one of the Classic Designs from Around the World in the past 50 years 
- Hevesi, Dennis. "David Rowland, Maker of a Tidily Stacked Chair, Dies at 86", The New York Times, August 25, 2010. Accessed August 26, 2010.
- Hoffman, Marilyn. "'Transparent Chair Show's Off Decorative Springs", The Christian Science Monitor, August 30, 1951. Accessed August 26, 2010.
- 9:22 in http://www.howe.com/content/interview-david-rowland. Accessed November 11, 2013
- Staff. "U.S. Exhibit Takes Top Prize in Milan", The New York Times, September 26, 1964. Accessed August 26, 2010.
- O'Brien, George. "A.I.D. Gives Awards to 14 Designs", The New York Times, January 5, 1965. Accessed August 26, 2010.
- Howe a/s David Rowland: 40/4, 2011
- Ahnfeldt-Mollerup, Merete Comments on forty chairs in four feet, 2005.