2013 marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of world renowned furniture manufacturer Knoll.
Famous for introducing the concept of contemporary design into the corporate workplace as well as for manufacturing some of the world’s most iconic, distinctive pieces of modern, designer furniture
Surface magazine calls Knoll, the “iconic American company on the verge of a creative resurgence.”
Since its founding, 75 years ago, Knoll has stood out for its commitment to high quality and innovative, original, timeless design that responds to real problems and real needs.
Remaining true to the Bauhaus design philosophy that modern furniture should complement architectural space, not compete with it, Knoll has become known for its simplistic and minimalist, yet functional and timeless designs over the past 75 years.
Since 1938, Knoll has been recognized internationally for creating workplace and residential furnishings that inspire, evolve and endure.
Today, Knoll’s commitment to modern design, understanding of the workplace and dedication to sustainable design has yielded a unique portfolio of products that respond and adapt to changing needs.
Knoll 75th Anniversary Celebration Party
Presentation by George to design students from UTS , Enmore and Sydney Design Colleges
George at Work preparing the new Knoll showroom design
To mark this achievement, dedece asked George Freedman ( Sydney interior Designer) to curate a news showroom presentation to feature Knoll’s iconic and new residential and workplace designs, reflecting its rich design heritage of furniture, textiles and accessories with work grounded in clarity of form and honesty in materials.
George even got a chance to re-use his original issue Knoll International Planning Unit Drawing Template – old ( not in Mint condition) but still incredibly useful and valuable – fir for purpose
Knoll – Modern Always
Turning Knoll into a household name—not just for designers, architects, tradespeople, or in-the-know aficionados, but for everyone—has been the modus operandi for Knoll Directors Andrew Cogan and Benjamin Pardo as the company begins a new chapter.
To celebrate 75 years of design, Knoll is launching Modern always, an integrated communications campaign.
The cross-platform program embodies the essence of Knoll design innovation and celebrates the Knoll brand — past, present and future — since the company’s founding in 1938.
Throughout this year, Knoll will be bringing its story of modern design to life as well as focusing on how Knoll is helping to set the standards for sustainable design.
Modern always was launched across six social platforms identified by the searchable hashtag ….. #modernalways.
The digital effort also reached beyond the Knoll website to Facebook, Twitter, a new Instagram handle, Tumblr, YouTube and Pinterest.
The goal is to reach a diverse audience of design enthusiasts as well as design professionals and their clients in the commercial, government, healthcare, education and residential sectors.
Knoll fans will have multiple ways to engage with the Modern always campaign, which will include 75 “modern always” moments from Knoll’s history.
Knoll Print Campaign 2013
Knoll’s 2013 Print Campaign, couples designers and their recent work for Knoll with its design icons:
KnollTextiles Print Campaign 2013
Building on the success of last year’s launch, KnollTextiles continues on the journey in 2013 with the So Happy. Together. integrated campaign.
The iconic full-spectrum images featured throughout the campaign display a stunning fabric of diversity.
Bold and colorful, the Vivid Collection by Trove playfully puts the story of the industry’s innovator in wall coverings on view.
KnollTextiles continues to redefine the boundaries of expression through its range of colors, collections and collaborations—all captured in the iconic photography of Ilan Rubin, which brings together the subtlety and dimension of the fabric of modernism.
Knoll was founded in 1938 in New York City by German émigré Hans Knoll.
Production facilities were moved to Pennsylvania in 1950.
After the death of Hans in 1955, his wife Florence Knoll took over as head of the company.
Headquarters of the organisation are based today at East Greenville, Pennsylvania, USA with manufacturing facilities throughout the United States, in Canada and Italy in Europe.
Hans Knoll was born in Stuttgart, Germany in 1914.
His father, Walter C Knoll, was one of the pioneer manufacturers of modern furniture in Weimar Germany; knew Gropius, Breuer, Mies van der Rohe; and made some of the early Bauhaus furniture for them.
Hans did not get on well with his father and broke away from the family, initially to England in the late 1930’s where he started Plan Ltd, an interior design firm, and in 1937 accomplished his aim of moving to New York.
The following year, in a single-storey room on 72nd Street, he constituted himself the Hans G Knoll Furniture Company, bravely nailing up a sign which read: Factory No1.
Hans established the first Knoll manufacturing plant in a former dance hall in East Greenville, Pennsylvania.
He is attracted to the area in part by the abundance of skilled local craftsmen. The Pennsylvania Dutch population reminds Hans, in dialect and skill, of the German woodworkers around whom he grew up.
Florence Schust and Hans Knoll met during the Second World War.
After finishing graduate school at Cranbrook she had attended the Architectural Association in London and taken a degree there, but could not be licensed in the USA without an American degree, so she studied for a year with Mies van der Rohe at what was then the Armour Institute in Chicago.
Afterwards she was working in architectural offices in Boston for Gropius and Breuer and in New York for “Wally” Harrison when Hans Knoll offered her the task of designing an office for the then Secretary of War Henry L Stimson.
Whilst this was happening, his future wife Florence was busy studying at Kingsfield, Cranbrook, and the Armour Institute where she received a degree in Architecture.
She was a protegee of Eero Saarinen
In an effort to bring in business during the war, Florence proposed to Hans that they work with architects by doing interior design. This was in 1943.
Initially, Hans Knoll worked in conjunction with Danish furniture designer Jens Risom and during the Second World War manufactured a line of chairs using softwoods and discarded army webbing or parachute cloth. ( The Risom Chair Range is still available today)
During this period (the 1940’s) other furniture designers also worked with Knoll, for example Abel Sorensen and Ralph Rapson, and more famously today Franco Albini, whose beautiful desk is still manufactured by Knoll.
It was successful and the two married in 1946 and became full partners in the business.
She has commented since then, half-humorously, that this was the start of Knoll’s subsequent success designing office interiors.
Throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s Knoll expanded its portfolio of products by including iconic designs by Bauhaus architects Marcel Breuer and Mies van der Rohe and contemporary American designers such as Eero Saarinen, Isamu Noguchi, Warren Platner and Harry Bertoia.
In 1955 Hans Knoll died in a car accident leaving Florence the President of the company until 1960.
She remained the director of design until 1965.
Florence contributed tons to the company by bringing in designers and big name clients.
She also designed furniture for the company, helped with many of their textiles, and designed a lot of interiors and showrooms for Knoll.
Knoll is the recipient of the 2011 National Design Award for Corporate and Institutional Achievement from the Smithsonian’s Copper-Hewitt, National Design Museum.
Since 1938, Knoll has been recognized internationally for creating workplace and residential furnishings that inspire, evolve and endure.
Today, our commitment to modern design, our understanding of the workplace and our dedication to sustainable design has yielded a unique portfolio of products that respond and adapt to changing needs.
Knoll is aligned with the U.S. Green Building Council and the Canadian Green Building Council and can help companies achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design LEED® workplace certification.
Knoll is the founding sponsor of the World Monuments Fund Modernism at Risk program.
About Hans Knoll
b. Germany 1914-1955
German-born Hans Knoll was a member of a prominent furniture-making family.
His father Walter C. Knoll, one of the pioneer makers of modern furniture in pre-Hitler Germany, produced early Mies van der Rohe designs in his Stuttgart factory.
A man of vitality and drive, and disenchanted with Europe, Knoll went first to England where he opened his own interior design company, Plan Ltd.
His stay in England was brief and in 1937 he came to New York.
With his background in the production of furniture and his zeal for good design, he was ready in 1938 to form the Hans G. Knoll Furniture Company in small space on East 72nd Street.
Hans originally intended to import European designs but because of difficult import conditions, he shifted his ambitions toward domestic products.
As Hans expanded the scope of his company to include interior design projects, he hired a young Danish designer named Jens Risom in 1941 to help with space planning.
The state of custom interior design led Risom to design new pieces of furniture for specific projects – the original Knoll furniture.
At the same time, Hans created the company’s first manufacturing plant in an old dance hall in East Greenville, Pennsylvania.
While the company grew quickly in its first few years under Hans’s leadership, it was Knoll’s association with Florence Schust, beginning in 1943, that propelled the company toward unparalleled excellence. (Florence and Hans were married in 1946.)
Over the next nine years, and until Hans’s untimely death in a 1955 auto accident, the company grew substantially both in the US and abroad, with the establishment of the Knoll Planning Unit, Knoll Textiles, and a myriad of now iconic commissions.
By 1955, Hans and Florence had established one of the preeminent and international design houses: the Planning Unit had begun work on Connecticut General’s headquarters, and the collection included designs by Mies van der Rohe, Saarinen’s Womb Chair and 71 and 72 office chairs, Bertoia’s wire-frame collection, Florence Knoll’s design, among others.
Eero Saarinen wrote of Hans Knoll: ….
“Hans Knoll has made a great and lasting contribution to the cultural world. No one man has done so much to change the interiors of our buildings. In America we feel his impact especially in institutional and commercial buildings into which contemporary design has hardly penetrated . … It was he who gave his clients confidence in good design. Within his huge, flowering organization he dealt with each employee in a personal, human way. To designers he gave generously of his own creative imagination, encouraging them to undertake new and better things. He always freely gave credit to his designers, yet he – who played a big part in their work – never took any credit himself. The generosity, the enthusiasm, the inspiration and the concern for human beings which he brought to everything he touched will long be remembered by all of us ”
About Florence Knoll
b. Michigan, USA, 1917
Born to a baker, and orphaned at age twelve, Florence Schust grew up Saginaw, Michigan.
Schust demonstrated an early interest in architecture and was enrolled at the Kingswood School for Girls, adjacent to the Cranbrook Academy of Art.
While at Kingswood, Florence befriended Eilel Saarinen, whom she would later study under at Cranbrook.
Warmly embraced by the Saarinen family, Florence vacationed with them in Finland, enjoyed the company of their accomplished friends, and formed a very close relationship with Eliel’s son, Eero.
The connections she made and the skills she developed while at Cranbrook were the foundations of Florence Schust’s incredible design education and pioneering career.
With recommendations from Eliel Saarinen and Alvar Aalto, Florence went on to study under some of the greatest 20th century architects, including Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe at the Illinois Institute of Technology.
In 1941 Florence moved to New York where she met Hans Knoll who was establishing his furniture company.
With Florence’s design skills and Hans’ business acumen and salesmanship, the pair, who married in 1946, grew the nascent company into an international arbiter of style and design.
Florence also seeded contributions with her friends Eero Saarinen, Harry Bertoia, and Mies van der Rohe.
In creating the revolutionary Knoll Planning Unit, Florence Knoll defined the standard for the modern corporate interiors of post-war America.
Drawing on her background in architecture, she introduced modern notions of efficiency, space planning, and comprehensive design to office planning.
Florence ardently maintained that she did not merely decorate space. She created it.
The Planning Unit rigorously researched and surveyed each client — assessing their needs, defining patterns of use and understanding company hierarchies — before presenting a comprehensive design, informed by the principles of modernism and beautifully executed in signature Knoll style.
Florence and the Planning Unit were responsible for the interiors of some of America’s largest corporations, including IBM, GM and CBS.
As part of her work with the Planning Unit, Florence frequently contributed furniture designs to the Knoll catalog.
She humbly referred to her furniture designs as the “meat and potatoes,” filler among the standout pieces of Bertoia, Mies, and Saarinen.
However, with her attention to detail, eye for proportion, and command of the modern aesthetic, many of her designs have become as revered and celebrated as those of her colleagues.
After the tragic death of Hans Knoll in 1955, Florence Knoll led the company as president through uncertain times.
In 1960 she resigned the presidency to focus on directing design and development and, in 1965 after pioneering an industry and defining the landscape and aesthetic of the corporate office, Florence Knoll Basset (she remarried in 1957) retired from the company.
Her contributions to Knoll, and to the rise of modernism in America, are immeasurable.