Design Dads – Knoll Family Album

Design Dads – Knoll Family Album

Among Knoll’s roster of superstar architects, furniture designers and modern masters, is a set of fathers and sons and grandfathers.

Here is an excerpt of the “Knoll family album.”


Eero Saarinen, known for his soaring, futuristic architecture and furniture of the industrial era, is the son of Eliel Saarinen, another master architect.

The two shared a birthday, not to mention a passion for building and craft. Like father, like son:

From the moment the 3-year-old boy crawled under the drafting table in the ample studio-house in Hvitträsk and started to draw, there was no doubt in the elder Saarinen’s mind that his son would be an architect. The common pattern—especially in America—would have been to preserve one’s individuality and independence by rebellious escape into another profession.

“But,” Eero says wonderingly, “except for a brief excursion into sculpture it never occurred to me to do anything but follow my father’s footsteps.” …..Louchheim, Aline B. “Now Saarinen the Son.” The New York Times 26 Apr. 1953.


Eero Saarinen remembers…. My father always used to say that from an ashtray to a city plan everything is architecture. In working out a design you always have to keep thinking of the next largest thing — the ashtray in its relation to the table top; the chair in its relation to the room; the building in relation to the city.


Knoll graphic design master Herbert Matter‘s son Alex (b. 1942) appeared often in the designer’s photographs, advertisements, and layouts. Herbert Matter recounts:

I had to take pictures of the Hardoy chair and on a Saturday morning or afternoon I took my son to the studio with me because I took care of him.


And so while I was preparing to shoot the chair I was looking and he started to run around the chair, pretending to be a cowboy and I just let him and took pictures. We probably never said a single word — he just acted out a certain story he had in his mind — so I took the pictures.

At first I thought I would just use the best — then I couldn’t find them so I used as many as I could get into two pages.



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