David Rowland's 100th! Dive into the legacy of 40/4 chair's mastermind, whose design genius revolutionized comfort and style in every stack.

This year, we honor the centennial of David Rowland, a name synonymous with innovation, functionality, and timeless design in the furniture world. Born into an era of transformation, Rowland's journey from a courageous World War II bomber pilot to a trailblazing furniture designer is a testament to his indomitable spirit and relentless pursuit of excellence. His masterpiece, the 40/4 chair, is not just a piece of furniture but a revolution in design thinking, embodying the principles of comfort, space efficiency, and aesthetic versatility.


2024 gives us another reason to celeabrate! It's, perfectly, also the 60th anniversary of Rowland's iconic 40/4 stackable chair. We invite you to join us in rediscovering the pivotal moments in 40/4's design process, unveiling how it has evolved into one of the most influential designs of the 20th century, continually inspiring architects and designers worldwide.


Follow the #Celebrating60and100 hashtag and stay informed about exciting events and initiatives we have meticulously prepared to mark this significant milestone.


The power of visionary design

Rowland's education at the Cranbrook Academy of Art laid the foundation for his unique approach to industrial design, combining practicality with elegance. Rejecting lucrative job offers from renowned designers, he chose the path of independence, driven by a vision to redefine seating comfort and functionality.


His dedication culminated in the creation of his 40/4 chair, a marvel of engineering that allows forty chairs to stack within four feet, showcasing his genius in solving complex design challenges with simple, elegant solutions.

The 40/4 chair's journey from concept to global acclaim is a story of perseverance and innovation. Despite initial rejections, Rowland's unwavering commitment led to the chair's production by the General Fireproofing Company and its subsequent success, marked by prestigious awards and recognition.


The chair's inclusion in esteemed design collections and institutions worldwide, such as the Museum of Modern Art and the Vitra Design Museum, underscores its significance in the annals of modern design.



Learn more about David Rowland 

"I've gone through absolute hell. I've been optimistic and then pessimistic. I've been accepted and I've been totally turned down. And finally, I was accepted by GF. Those executives had great foresight and I owe them a great debt of gratitude for having seen a product that was going to be a huge success."


David Rowland's memories about bringing

the 40/4 chair into the market

Sit, Stack and Savor

The 40/4 chair is a paragon of design, renowned for its remarkable stackability, which allows for an impressive 40 chairs to be stacked in a mere 4 feet of space, epitomizing space-saving efficiency. Its ergonomics are finely tuned to support the body comfortably, making it perfect for prolonged use, while its robust construction guarantees longevity, ensuring the chair remains a fixture of quality and reliability.


The chair's timeless aesthetic, with its sleek lines and elegant form, ensures seamless integration into any environment, from modern offices to stylish homes. This combination of functional innovation and aesthetic appeal makes the 40/4 chair a celebrated piece in the realm of furniture design.


In 1992, HOWE a/s embarked on a global journey with the acquisition of international rights to the iconic 40/4 chair, further expanding its reach by securing USA and Canadian rights in 2013.

Physics and art combined constitute industrial design

Expanding the 40/4


In partnership with HOWE since 2004, David Rowland has expanded the 40/4 chair collection to include innovative variants like writing tablet chairs, lounge chairs, barstools, outdoor chairs, all-wood, and swivel chairs, along with customized options. This extended family allows for a harmonious design theme across various spaces, maintaining the original's celebrated aesthetic.


The 40/4 chair by David Rowland is acclaimed as the first truly stackable chair and the only original design. The copies as well as other more independent developments are indications of the fact that David Rowland created a whole new type of furniture, which is profoundly expressive of contemporary life. To recognize an original 40/4 chair, just look for David Rowland's signature under the seat.

Great chair in great numbers

original design that set the standard

prestigious international awards


chairs can be stacked in just 4 feet high

years in the market

units for first project featuring the 40/4 chair at the University of Illinois

units sold worldwide and counting

David Rowland believed that by making things better, beauty would naturally follow

ARKEN - Museum of Contemporary Art

A Seat at History's Table


Whether you're a design aficionado, a lover of inspiring stories, or someone who appreciates the beauty and functionality of well-crafted furniture, this monograph is a treasure trove of insights and inspirations.


Discover the story behind the 40/4 chair—a piece that not only redefined the landscape of design but also showcased the power of resilience and creativity. Embark on this inspiring journey with David Rowland and uncover the legacy of a design that continues to resonate in spaces around the globe and never stops to astonish architects from all generations - those experienced as well as those young and hungry for beauty and inspiration.


This thoughtfully made book, marking the 60th anniversary of the 40/4 chair, not only celebrates Rowland's legendary design but also explores his broader contributions to the design world.



David Rowland’s Story from Sketch to Stardom


To commemorate the centennial legacy of her esteemed husband, Erwin' Rowland, alongside renowned author Laura Schenone, unveiled a biography that transcends a mere narrative; it's an odyssey of design that challenged the status quo.


Despite initial rebuffs from furniture behemoths such as Herman Miller and Knoll, Rowland's steadfast dedication transformed the 40/4 chair from a mere concept to an iconic hallmark, culminating in its resounding triumph.

Pre-order now from Phaidon. The book goes on sale worldwide on June 26th, 2024.

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Discover entire 40/4 family



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