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Knoll Designer Bios

Ruth Adler Schnee

b. Michigan, 1923

Ruth Adler Schnee is considered one of the founding figures of contemporary textile design in America. Ruth Adler Schnee was born in 1923 to a cultured German-Jewish family who fled Nazi Germany soon after Kristalnacht and settled in Detroit, Michigan. Degrees from RISD and Cranbrook (under the tutelage of Eliel Saarinen) and an internship with Raymond Loewy prepared her for a career in design. But it was the 1947 recognition from a competition “Better Rooms for Better Living” that brought her abstract-patterned draperies to the attention of a Chicago architectural firm and launched her career as a fabric designer. In addition to receiving numerous awards over the years, Adler Schnee has been friends and collaborators with many of the Who’s Who in modern American architecture and design including Buckminster Fuller (working on Ford Rotunda) and Minoru Yamaski (World Trade Center), Eero Saarinen, Charles and Ray Eames and Frank Lloyd Wright.