For the 56th edition of the Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan, Knoll presented new collections and iconic designs, which collectively reaffirm the creative vision that has made the company a world-famous brand.
“Our space at the Salone illustrates the innovative spirit of Knoll design through the new creations developed for this year by Piero Lissoni, celebrating the past and future story of the brand at the same time,” says Demetrio Apolloni, President of Knoll Europe.
In keeping with the company’s “Modern Always” perspective, the Knoll Salone display features new products by Italia Designer Piero Lissoni, Barber & Osbergy alongside modern classics designed by Florence Knoll, Mies van der Rohe, Eero Saarinen and Harry Bertoia, all housed in an exhibition space curated with great style and attention to detail.
The itinerary within the stand displays new connotations of design icons combined with contemporary pieces, moving harmoniously from small details to elegant and unexpected spaces.
A large space is given over to the new Avio and Grasshopper from Piero Lissoni, which integrate perfectly with the collection classics designed by Florence Knoll, Mies van der Rohe, Eero Saarinen and Harry Bertoia, to name but a few, as well as the more recent Pilot Chair from Edward Barber & Jay Osgerby and the chairs of the Krusin Collection 016.
We had the opportunity to interview Barber & Osgerby and to discover more about their cooperation with Knoll and their future projects.
“We always seek to address problems from a different viewpoint. And if you’re very lucky you may end up creating something that is completely new, or a new archetype, or even working with new materials that maybe aren’t existing in the furniture industry. And that’s the ultimate goal, really, to try and innovate. The more open you are to other influences from engineers and technicians within the company, the better the product will be in the end. If you can tailor their experience with your wishes, then you are going to end up with the best possible result.” commented Barber & Osgerby.
New Knoll 2017 Collection
Grasshopper by Piero Lissoni
The collaboration between Knoll and Piero Lissoni continues with his design of Grasshopper, a collection of tables that expresses a perfect balance between modernity and tradition.
Lissoni explains: “If this table could be described with just two words, they would be flared and lightweight. Indeed, Grasshopper borrows its name from the animal that has six precision tools for legs. Here, there are four—equally long and incredible and yet perfectly functional. Above them sits a top that is so thin that it looks able to lift up and take to the air. An object that is so weightless and compact that it works perfectly with all the chairs of the Knoll range.And then I wanted it to have the height of a classic table, just a little lower than those of today, a few centimeters less to promote privileged refinement around the table.”
Grasshopper represents a perfect combination of pure geometry and synthesis of design, beginning from the notion that the modern table is where key decisions are taken, accommodating a range of functions from family reunions to business meetings.
The elegance of Grasshopper derives from its combination of surfaces and structure: the surfaces are distinguished by their slenderness and are available in a rectangular form that incorporates rounded corners or in a circular format, while the structure is composed of very thin, high-performance cast steel elements available in chrome, burnished or lacquered finishes. The tabletop is available in uncommon and exquisite stone, glass, and heat-treated or fossil woods.
Grasshopper also includes a family of low tables conceived as a minimal planetary system. Suspended at different heights, they turn as if floating in thin air, supporting the hypothesis that a gentle spirit is an ethereal gift. The low tables use the same materials and combine with the main round tabletop to produce secondary, differently sized tables that can be moved along the perimeter, tracing out circular orbits.
Each element of the collection expresses the value of Knoll craftsmanship, evidenced in the working of raw materials of the highest quality, and careful and passionate detailing that confers a special charm to these extremely versatile tables.
Avio Sofa System Collection by Piero Lissoni
The technological soul of the Avio Sofa System by Piero Lissoni, the new, contemporary and versatile system of modular sofas from Knoll, is today broadened thanks to an innovative patented mechanism and original asymmetric elements.
Aesthetics and technology are increasingly its distinctive features: ideal for those who enjoy a solid and elegant design, an expression of a comfortable and relaxed lifestyle. As with all souls, it lives within the system, hidden from view: a mechanism activated with a simple gesture that rotates the end seating element to make resting, reading and conversation even more comfortable.
This year, Avio also evolves by incorporating asymmetry: the corner version goes beyond the idea of the right angle, and offers a scalene triangle of innovative and generous proportions that serves as an end element to form compositions of irregular beauty.
Describing the sofa, Piero Lissoni says: “I imagined that Avio could move, responding to the user’s wish for convenience and socialibity. For this I designed a mechanism that is hidden but at the same time appealing, like the detailing of certain motorbikes, and most importantly very easy to use.”
Linked to this idea of movement, a large, irregular end or corner element has been introduced that slightly alters the pure and precise line of Avio, suggesting a more informal and relaxed atmosphere, a conception of elegance with a touch of idiosyncrasy.
The renewed Avio is now also presented in a more compact version, without sacrificing any of the aesthetic appeal of the original. This version features a seat that is slightly less deep, enabling it to fit into smaller spaces while always offering unparalleled moments of relaxation.
Matrioska Credenza by Piero Lissoni
“Matrioska is a cabinet (credenza) conceived as a container made to house other containers that house things to contain. Each part is visible and reveals its structure in relation to the others, along with its function which is to accommodate and organize. I thought of it as an open and minimal house with forms one inside the other, a sequence of empty and full spaces. A kind of rulebook of shapes, proportions and dimensions that narrate the way the space can be organized through an orchestration of colors and materials – marble, wood, lacquer and glass.” said Piero Lissoni
A sensual game of full and empty parts, lights and shadows: Piero Lissoni designs Matrioska for Knoll, solid and essential, like an architecture that offers glimpses of its contents without revealing them entirely. It houses elements within that are open or closed by doors: drawers, shelves and boxes made from traditional materials such as wood, marble and glass.
Configured as a system to accommodate and store, its containers can be arranged in different combinations and moved around within the structure to create a variety of configurations in an elegant play of geometric volumes.
New versions and finishes for the Knoll classics
Womb Settee Relax by Eero Saarinen
Designed in 1948 by Eero Saarinen, the two-seater sofa Womb Settee was reintroduced by Knoll in 2016.
Envisioned as part of the General Motors Technical Center, the monumental architectural project taken on by the architect, the Womb Settee is ranked as one of the most characteristic pieces offered by Knoll.
As Saarinen said: “Today more than ever we need to relax” – following that line of thinking, the sofa is today presented in a restored version: the Womb Settee Relax. Soft polyurethane foam and feather padding of the seat cushions provides enhanced comfort. The sturdiness of the structure is preserved, but the final result is that of an
extremely welcoming and comfortable seat.
Platner Dining Table by Warren Platner
The 60s were a key period in the design world, bringing new cultural values able to give maximum expression to Modernism. In the same era, Platner transformed simple metal bars into sculptural furniture design, creating one of the most representative collections of 1960s design.
Previously updated with an 18k gold-plated version as well as the classic bronze and nickel, the dining table is now available with a marble top. The latter can be customized with any of the finishes proposed by Knoll.
Entitled “This is Knoll,” the installation was designed by OMA, the acclaimed designed firm co-founded by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, as an ultra-modern version of the Barcelona Pavilion by Mies van der Rohe.
Focusing on plays of colors, styles and timeless furnishing, the installation brings new connotations to design classics as they are mixed together with contemporary pieces.
The space has been created to adapt to the flow of visitors through the use of mobile partitions. The walls of the main diagonal are capable of sliding, making it possible to divide the stand into two separate sections or to keep the area as open as possible. OMA has chosen different materials that reinforce the concept of heterogeneity and create perfect backdrops for the products of the Knoll collection: soft and solid, organic and synthetic, transparent and opaque.
In addition, architectural glass panels by Rotterdam-based designer Sabine Marcelis represent a custom project fro Knoll and a true experiment, combining glass, metal and touches of color to create architectural panels that act as spatial dividers or theatrical wings.
“OMA has created our stand to emphasize the contribution of our founders, who brought the benefits of modern design into both homes and places of work,” says Benjamin Pardo, Executive Vice President for Design of Knoll.
The new products are the focus of the narrative and create a relationship with everything around them, while simultaneously celebrating change and innovation. A new way of living in the name of individuality and creativity, designed for home and office, and for both private and more public rooms.
About Piero Lissoni
Piero Lissoni began his career as a furniture designer after receiving his degree in architecture from the Politecnico di Milano. In 1986 he founded his own studio, which specialized in architecture, furniture, interiors, and graphic design. He produced a diverse portfolio that included designs for showrooms, yachts, private residences and hotels.
In 2004 Knoll introduced Lissoni’s Divina Lounge Collection, originally designed for his longtime client, Living Divina. Two years later, he and his studio’s design manager, Marc Krusin, co-designed the wa office system for Knoll International. With no predetermined connection points, the brilliantly simple design featured a patented 360 degree clip mechanism allowing any component to be attached to any workstation, on any side.
About Barber & Osgerby
Internationally acclaimed designers Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby founded their studio in 1996 after graduating with Master’s degrees in Architecture from The Royal College of Art in London. Alongside their eponymous studio, in 2001 Barber and Osgerby founded Universal Design Studio, now recognized as one of the world’s most innovative creative design consultancies working in architecture, interiors and exhibition design.
They have developed collections for several major furniture manufacturers as well as limited edition pieces and one-off works for both private and public commissions. BarberOsgerby’s work is held in permanent collections around the world including the V&A Museum, London; New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art; London’s Design Museum; and the Art Institute of Chicago.
In 2012, the pair launched MAP, a strategy-based industrial design studio that draws on the creative and commercial skills of Barber and Osgerby to provide design intuition, creative direction and research to ambitious clients. That same year, Barber and Osgerby were honored with the appointment to design the London 2012 Olympic Torch.
Edward and Jay have been recognized in the Queen’s Birthday Honours and awarded OBEs for their services to the design industry.
The Barber Osgerby Lounge Collection, introduced in 2014, was the pair’s first collaboration with Knoll. The Collection balances architectural forms and proportions with a soft, inviting sitting experience. The signature leg serves the dual purpose of foot and connector, simultaneously providing structure and support. The lounge collection was followed in 2015 by the Piton Collection of stools and side tables, a modified tripod design well-suited to the home or office. Their latest collaboration with Knoll led to Pilot, a swiveling lounge chair that marries visual and material lightness with exceptional comfort.
About Sabrine Marcelis
Sabine Marcelis is a designer based in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
Raised in New Zealand, she studied industrial design for two years at Victoria University of Wellington, School of Architecture and Design. She continued her studies at the Design Academy Eindhoven, where she graduated in 2011.
Since graduating, she has been operating Studio Sabine Marcelis, producing both self-initiated and commissioned work.
Marcelis applies a strong aesthetic point of view to her collaborations with industry specialists. This method of working allows her to intervene in the manufacturing process, using material research and experimentation to achieve new and surprising visual effects.
Founded in New York in 1938, Knoll is recognized worldwide as a leader in the design of residential and office furnishings, thanks to products that are inspiring, evolving and timeless.
The firm’s founder Hans Knoll belonged to the third generation of a family of furniture makers from Stuttgart, who had moved to the United States with the aim of transferring the ideas and forms of European design overseas. Knoll has always kept faith with the original tenets of the Bauhaus philosophy, according to which modern furniture should complete the architectural space, never compete with it.
With the precious contribution of his wife Florence, an active participant in the cultural movements of the time, Hans Knoll had from the outset the fundamental goal of producing furnishings with modern, exclusive design, made with the greatest care from the finest selected materials. Furniture for the office or the home that would stand out because of its unique personality and design and be capable of interpreting or even forecasting the evolution of lifestyles.
From its US headquarters, Knoll launched a project of international expansion, well ahead of the competition. In 1951, the company set up affiliates in France and Germany, hoping to take part in the projects of reconstruction in post war Europe. For Florence, the choice of designing the first European showroom in the dépendance of a cathedral in Paris offered a concrete opportunity to present the design and spirit of the Modern Movement to a new audience. In 1956 the European expansion continued with the opening of the first Knoll showroom in Italy, in the city of Milan.
Focusing on elegant avant-garde design, Knoll achieved fame and success in the 1950s by working with the most outstanding talents of the day, like Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Marcel Breuer, Eero Saarinen, Harry Bertoia and Florence Knoll herself, who influenced modern culture with their “landmark” products that transformed the ideals of the Bauhaus school into reality, based on the concept of consolidation of “art, industry and crafts.”
Since then, world-renowned architects and designers have continued to gravitate around to Knoll, inspired by the firm’s ongoing excellence, based on the design of Hans and Florence. The permanent collection of Knoll includes furnishings designed by Franco Albini, Don Albinson, Gae Aulenti, Enrico Baleri, Harry Bertoia, Achille Castiglioni, Frank Gehry, Alexander Girard, Haussmann, Piero Lissoni, Lovegrove, Mercer, Charles Pfister, Warren Platner, Charles Pollock, Jens Risom, Richard Sapper, Richard Schultz, Massimo & Lella Vignelli, Sottsass Associati, all the way to more recent contributions of David Adjaye and Barber & Osgerby.
Always in the design avant-garde, over the years Knoll has been able to keep the special personality of its unique, timeless furnishings intact. Alongside the historic products, including over forty classics held in the permanent collections of the world’s most important museums, new designs have continuously been added, capable of combining innovation and technology, reflecting the brand’s ability to envision personalized solutions and to diversify offerings to suit different markets, both for living spaces and workspaces.
The KnollStudio collection, for the residential sector, includes seating, tables and desks with a domestic look that also works perfectly in executive offices, modern classics that epitomize elegance and fine craftsmanship, through the distinctive, emblematic details of the Knoll style.
At the same time, the Knoll Office product line includes systems and seating for the office, desks in wood and metal, as well as cabinets and accessories for the workplace. Relying on unique experience in the creation of modern work environments, having monitored the evolution of the office over time, from managerial spaces to executive suites conceived to operate with a fully interconnected workforce, all the way to the more dynamic activities of contemporary businesses, Knoll Office still keeps faith with its original philosophy, firmly based on the needs of users, combining spatial research and innovative thinking.
In 2004 Knoll Inc. was listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), and today the firm has eleven monobrand showrooms in the United States, in cities like New York, Chicago, Washington DC, San Francisco and Boston, and with three proprietary showrooms in Europe: Milan, London and Paris. The company pursues its objective of offering design, innovation, functional excellence and quality all over the world, extending its reach into all markets through an intensive network of selected dealers.
While Knoll’s main offices are in the United States, with headquarters in New York and plants in Grand Rapids, Michigan, East Greenville, Pennsylvania and Toronto, Canada. It also has two production facilities in Italy: one in Foligno in Umbria and the other in Graffignana, South East of Milan. The production units apply the most advanced technologies, operated by staff specialized in specific processes, with a particular accent on safety and ecology. All the initiatives implemented and certifications obtained by Knoll confirm the brand’s commitment to excellence and sustainability.
The European division of Knoll has grown, reporting excellent results in recent years in both the residential and the office sectors. The approach involves investment in the brand and a greater focus on the company’s lifestyle proposition, applying the modern classics in the catalogue, such as the creations of Mies van der Rohe, Saarinen and Bertoia, to increase market visibility, while at the same time adding a contemporary approach with products designed by today’s outstanding talents, including Rem Koolhaas, David Adjaye and Barber & Osgerby.
Knoll has received many prizes and honors for its activities, including the National Design Award for Corporate and Institutional Achievement from the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in 2011.
In 2013 Knoll celebrated 75 years of design, based on a modernist avant-garde vision that extends to contemporary design for the home and office. Always timely. Always authentic.
In 2015 Knoll pays tribute to the centennial of the birth of Harry Bertoia by exploring the work of the eclectic designer in all his various art forms with the exhibition “Celebrate Harry Bertoia”.
Andrew Cogan, CEO of Knoll, Inc., comments: “Hans and Florence Knoll created a business founded on an unwavering commitment to good design. The goal of our innovation is always timelessness and adaptability—rejecting short-term trends and anticipating the inevitability of change. Our task is to ensure that Knoll remains vital and synonymous with good design for generations to come. Knoll is Modern Always because modern always works.”
“Knoll is Modern Always® because modern always works.“