Knoll fired her designers in 1972, arguing that it was much cheaper to pay royalties instead of salaries. Mr. Schultz bought the tools with his severance pay and opened a design workshop on his property, 49 acres of farmland in Bally, Pennsylvania.
There, his family lived in a farmhouse equipped with Mr. Schultz’s prototypes, parts and fittings converted from Knoll’s design studio, and furniture he made himself. Lampshades were made from accordion-folded drawing paper or Japanese lanterns made of rice paper.
With little money, Ms. Schultz went to work as a waitress at a local restaurant. The Schultz couldn’t afford new tires, so the Morris Minor family car was prone to explosions. “There was a time when I wanted to have a regular father who was the leader and drove the Cadillac,” said Peter Schultz.
In 1978, the family’s fortunes skyrocketed when Schultz designed an upholstered office chair called Paradigm, which was purchased by a Michigan furniture company.
Besides his son Peter, Mr. Schultz is survived by two other sons, Stephen and David, and four grandchildren. Ms Schultz died in 2016. Their daughter Monica Fadding died in 2006.
Mr. Schultz has often said that he and his colleagues at Knoll did not develop to meet market demands. According to him, they did what interested them, and they had a boss who encouraged their research. “Good design is good business,” Ms. Knoll told them.
“There was no market for these designs,” wrote Mr. Schultz in his design manifesto. “There was no style that architects and designers tried to fit in. But, at least in the modern era, something was in the air: the spirit of the time existed, and it could be felt by those who worked at that time. There was a great sense of optimism. We lived in the present and invented it along the way. “