Swedish-born Carl Magnusson grew up in Toronto and Vancouver, Canada. He studied architecture and design at the University of Idaho as well as at the Chalmers Institute of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden. In 1966, he moved to Los Angeles and joined the office of Charles Eames.
Magnusson’s long and influential career with Knoll began in 1976, when he joined as the Director of Graphics and Showroom Design. Promoted to Director of Design for Europe shortly thereafter, he designed Knoll showrooms in London, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Zurich, Florence, Rome, Amsterdam, and Turin.
In 1993, Magnusson was named Worldwide Director of Design, a post he held until his retirement from the company in 2005. In addition to producing his own designs, including the RPM chair and the Magnusson Desk, Magnusson was an instrumental collaborator on countless projects, helping to bring others’ ideas from the sketch pad to the showroom. Magnusson has an uncanny ability to take the sometimes lofty concepts of world-class architects into production.
Magnusson also helped grow the scope and vision of Knoll as a leader in the design community. He was behind the visionary Knoll Design Symposium, an event held annually at the Cranbrook Art Academy during the 1990s, which brought together professionals from all corners of the design world to share experiences and knowledge. In 1997, Carl Magnusson co-founded the Knoll Museum, in East Greenville, Pennsylvania as a way to preserve and celebrate the company’s rare and discontinued products.
In 2012 Magnusson was awarded the Design Legend award from Contract Magazine in recognition of his contributions to the world of design as a "curator, lecturer, mentor, inventor, organizer, talent scout, and visionary."