Award-Winning Furniture Designer Unveils Industry Insights

Explore the fascinating journey of award-winning furniture designer Mark Goetz in the commercial furniture industry. Gain insights into his unique perspective on furniture design.

Black and white headshot image of Mark Goetz

Seated around the sleek and modern Perimeter table from Bernhardt Design, award-winning furniture designer Mark Goetz shares tales about his career in the commercial furniture industry and how he sees furniture design differently.

Goetz recently moved his office from Brooklyn into a sun-soaked loft office in the East Rock neighborhood of New Haven, CT, an area well known for its hospitality to artists, architects, and designers alike. With a career spanning several decades, Goetz has left an indelible mark on the commercial office furniture industry, consistently pushing the boundaries of design, functionality, and sustainability, making him a true visionary in the field.

The Beginning

Goetz’s journey began with a passion for design and an insatiable curiosity. He honed his skills at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, where he studied industrial design and began a life-long passion for chair design. After completing his formal education, Goetz started his own firm at the young age of 24 and never looked back.

“When I was 24, I started my own business. I went to Brickel and presented them with a chair, and they said they liked it and would put it into production. And I was like ‘What?! This is going to be so easy!’ And I don’t’ think that’s ever happened again,” Goetz says with a smile.

From that first introduction of the Washington Avenue Collection for Brickel to today, Goetz has worked with some of the largest and most well-known brands in the commercial furniture industry. His furniture designs can be found in use at Harvard and Yale universities, NASA, The White House and the list goes on.

To better understand human anatomy to make a health positive benefit the focus of his designs, Goetz has teamed up with an array of medical professionals.

“Instead of just designing objects, I’m starting with the human body and working backwards. I think to myself, ‘What does the human body need? What is the healthiest posture my design can support?  And I begin my work from there.”

Taper chair designed to benefit both men and womenAchievements

One of his most notable achievements was a collaboration with Geiger and Dr. Brock Walker to create the Taper Chair, a true embodiment of his design brilliance. The chair debuted at NeoCon in 2017 and its elegance and functionality earned it the Best of Neocon Gold Award in the Task Chair category and a Red Dot Design Award in 2018. Goetz’s keen eye for detail and craftsmanship is evident in every aspect of the chair, but beyond its aesthetic appeal, the Taper prioritizes user comfort, offering a seating experience that encourages productivity and relaxation thus enriching the lives of those who use it every day.

“Working on the Taper chair with Geiger, we spent a lot of time just studying different body types of both men and women, because traditionally executive seating was kind of steered toward men. This needed to change. One of the things I’m really proud of in the design of the chair is that it truly fits a wide range of individuals. The closer we got to supporting the human body, the more beautiful it became. It elegantly expresses the human form of the healthy back it supports.”

Widely recognized design by Mark GoetzAnother widely recognized design by Goetz, the Full Twist chair (designed with Geiger and offered as well through Herman Miller) demonstrates his ability to seamlessly blend form and function. What truly sets this solid wood chair apart is its extraordinary comfort. Goetz meticulously developed the chair to ensure that it offered unparalleled support while reducing the overall material used to produce it. The chair’s contours embrace the human body, offering a level of comfort that encourages prolonged use without strain or discomfort. His designs embody his commitment to creating products that stand the test of time and reduce the environmental footprint, making them an ideal choice for sustainable, modern workplaces.

“Each component of the chair is computer carved to be absolutely precise and engineered to assemble with tight tolerances that make the chair very strong. We didn’t stop there. We continued through the process of designing it over and over again to really reduce the material,” Goetz said of the design of the Full Twist.

Influencing Others

Goetz’s influence extends beyond his designs as he has become a sought-after authority in the field, lecturing at universities and design conferences. He taught at Pratt for 20 years with 14 of them being focused specifically on furniture design. His willingness to share his knowledge and expertise has inspired a new generation of designers to consider the impact of their creations on both the environment and the people who use them. On his time at the Pratt Institute, Goetz said,

“I didn’t teach my students my personal way of designing. I encouraged them to self-direct their own projects and then I tried to help them achieve what they wanted to accomplish. I worked with them to instill confidence and pride in themselves to make sure they received the best possible education to realize their own individual goals.”

In a world where form and function often clash, Goetz has mastered the art of balance. His designs not only look elegant but also provide unmatched comfort and performance. His vision for the future of furniture design incorporates innovation, sustainability, and healthy, user-centric design.

The Future

As Goetz continues to push the envelope of what is possible in office furniture, his legacy in the industry remains a testament to the power of design to shape the future of the workplace. His creations are more than just furniture; they reinforce the idea that design can enhance our work lives, making them more comfortable, efficient, and environmentally responsible. It is designers like Goetz who inspire this unique industry to keep evolving, ultimately benefiting the people who use these products every day.