Famed designer dies in Jamaica fire


| mhayes@queenscourier.com |

fatal fire 001

A fatal fire took the life of one of the world’s last mid-century designers, said police and a close friend.

Charles Pollock, 83, of Charles Pollock Designs, created one of the best-selling office chairs in history, the Pollock Executive Chair. He moved to 157th Street in Jamaica just a few years ago after a lifetime of designing, said Constance Smith, longtime friend and business partner.

“He was wonderfully creative,” Smith said.

Around 7 a.m. on Tuesday, the FDNY got a call about a basement fire at Pollock’s private, two-story dwelling. Fire officials do not know who made the call.

Minutes later, four to five fire trucks appeared on the scene, according to the FDNY and neighbors. An unidentified male, who neighbors and Smith say is Pollock, was pronounced dead.

“He had a lifelong love for design,” Smith said. “He lived for it.”

Before beginning his career, Pollock graduated from the Pratt Institute, which he attended on a full scholarship, according to Smith.

Throughout the years, Pollock was featured in publications such as The New York Times for his designs, and his work appeared in various museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan and the Louvre in France.

In Jamaica, neighbors said Pollock kept to himself and lived a low-key life. He had difficulty walking and was wheelchair-bound. Some days, neighbors saw him waiting outside his home for Access-A-Ride to pick him up.

Rumors Pollock had mental health issues circled his neighborhood the morning of the fire, but Smith said those issues were addressed back when he was 22 years old. He was not married and had no children, but had a girlfriend who lives in Manhattan, according to Smith.

The cause of the fire was not yet determined as of press time, and the investigation is ongoing. A firefighter on the scene sustained minor injuries but refused medical attention, according to the FDNY.

 

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