George Kordaris

Product Design / Humanities and Sciences / Graduate Environmtl Dsgn

Biography

George Kordaris considers himself a very lucky man. In 1973, while at UCLA, a friend invited him to a party at the Knoll showroom for the launch of the Morrison and Hannah seating series. Seeing a lot of beautiful design people having fun, he cultivated the Knoll connection and a couple of years later he joined the firm. Since this first encounter, George’s unique perspective on great furniture designs has grown through decades of work with many of the most prestigious firms in the industry.  

The ’70s were a perfect moment to come into the furniture industry, as the office landscape was radically changing and interior design firms were rapidly growing. George learned about the industry from the designers he was calling on, building lifelong relationships and a global understanding of the furniture business in all markets from the ground up.  

From Los Angeles, he moved to New York City, where he called on elite design firms, including George Nelson and Marcel Breuer’s office. A few years later, Knoll asked George to establish the Knoll Brand in Japan and Hong Kong. “I recall pinching myself when I got to Tokyo”, and now he considers his two years in Asia as a very special time, “learning design and furniture from a different perspective was a great chapter.” During this time, George put together a team including Itoki of Japan, Knoll and Bruce Hannah to produce desking systems for the Asian market. At Knoll for 12 years, he also managed both of the firm’s top-two regions, Los Angeles and New York. This experience was the foundation of George’s education in furniture, design and organizational skills.

George’s life took a turn in 1988 when he “fell in love” with the Vitra AC2 low-back chair with Alexander Girard fabric at Orgatec. His interest in Vitra was ignited and led to his hiring as Managing Director and Board member for Vitra NA. During his tenure, Vitra achieved meaningful growth while building an elite team of people. This period coincided with the opening of the Vitra Design Museum and the tremendous impact it has on furniture history. Working for Rolf Fehlbaum and the Vitra team was an absolutely great learning experience.

 Sensing a void in the industry, along with co-editor Brad Powell, George created and contributed to Officeinsight, a critical weekly newsletter aimed at the design market. Providing an in-depth understanding of the industry’s inner workings to over 20,000 readers, Officeinsightbrought objectivity to the sector and produced DesignDaysNY; trade-show coordinating major furniture showrooms with the leading design colleges in the Northeast. Massimo Vignelli Associates designed the event.  During these five years, George also wrote about furniture and design firms for I.D.and Interior Design Magazine.

Following this foray in journalism, he was asked by Herman Miller to head the firm's Global Architecture and Design Program, where he led a sales and marketing team dedicated to reviving HMI’s design legacy. In his book How Design Happened at Herman Miller, author Joe Schwartz cites George’s role to “reestablish Herman Miller’s “emotional connection” with the A&D audiences.”

In 2002, George moved to London to become President of Humanscale International. During his near-decade with the firm, he oversaw extraordinary company growth and the rise of a global brand. The international team he assembled is still in place today and the company has maintained its steady growth. It was during his time in London that George was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, FRSA, upon a recommendation from Niels Diffrient, one of the greatest chair designers of all time.

Back in New York, he became CEO of Moroso NA, an iconic international furniture boutique, perhaps one of the world’s most innovative manufacturers.

Drawing from his extensive industry experiences and relationships, George established Round Table Associates, a furniture consulting firm he still operates, providing strategic product planning, marketing strategies and advice to leading designers and manufacturers.

In 2018, George started teaching a graduate class in “The History of Furniture Production” at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. As John Wooden said, “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts!” It has been amazing to teach the history of the industry, charting the future of the global furniture industry.

George’s global understanding of the furniture market and the elite positions that he has held along the way, coupled with a love of furniture design and design history, give him unparalleled insight into what it takes to be a success in this industry.

Classes

  • Practice Production Furniture
  • Classroom to Career