Recommended Reading: Design 101

Knoll Design Director Benjamin Pardo shares six picks

With summer around the corner, Knoll is preparing for some design-related reading. In anticipation, we asked Knoll Design Director and resident bibliophile Benjamin Pardo to compile a list of recommendations that, while not exactly beach reads, would suit anyone looking to dip into the history of modern design.

For this first list in our Recommended Reading series, Pardo suggests six overviews of designers, architects, schools, movements and industries intertwined with the history of twentieth century design—and, of course, Knoll.


Jansen Furniture (20th Century Decorators) by James Archer Abbott & Mitchell Owens, 2007 | Recommended Reading: Design 101 | Knoll Inspiration

Jansen Furniture (20th Century Decorators) by James Archer Abbott & Mitchell Owens, 2007 

BP: “If you’re giving someone a reading list, they need to start from the beginning.”

Once the textbook for designers, decorators and architects alike, Jansen Furniture is the most comprehensive overview of twentieth century contributions to furniture design. A must-read for both the neophyte and the expert.

Bauhaus by Magdalena Droste, 1981 | Recommended Reading: Design 101 | Knoll Inspiration

Bauhaus by Magdalena Droste, 1981

BP: "Although, for modernism, this is really where it all began."

The Bauhaus Archiv/Museum of Design contains the most important collection of Bauhaus today, including works by the movement’s main proponents: Walter Gropius, Josef & Anni Albers, Marcel Breuer, Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee. Magalena Droste’s definitive text pulls from Archiv’s extensive collection to trace the expressions of the movement and its philosophy within art, design and architecture. A singular resource for anyone interested in the Bauhaus.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe & Lily Reich: Furniture and Interiors by Christian Lange, 2007 | Recommended Reading: Design 101 | Knoll Inspiration

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe & Lilly Reich: Furniture and Interiors by Christian Lange, 2007

BP: "There is no reason this should not be on every designer's shelf. If you're stuck, look to Mies."

Businessman and art collector Hermann Lange cultivated mutually beneficial relationships with architect Mies van der Rohe and interior designer Lilly Reich, resulting in joint, collaborative efforts between these giants of their respective fields. This volume presents many of Mies and Reich's furniture works alongside the original décor of Haus Lange, which served as the testing ground for the experiments of this formidable coterie.

Monocle: The Forecast, 2015 | Recommended Reading: Design 101 | Knoll Inspiration

Monocle: The Forecast, 2015

BP: "Reading to help keep current and edit carefully."

Monocle: The Forecast is a pocket-sized overview of industry trends in fashion, travel, hospitality, design, architecture, entrepreneurship and retail. One of Monocle Magazine’s single-volume editions, this is an excellent resource for those in need of quick, accessible information on the contemporary goings on of the design industry from one of the UK’s lead editorial publications.

Cranbrook Design: The New Discourse by Hugh Aldersey-Williams, Lorraine Wild & Daralice Boles, 1990 | Recommended Reading: Design 101 | Knoll Inspiration

Cranbrook Design: The New Discourse by Hugh Aldersey-Williams, Lorraine Wild & Daralice Boles, 1990

BP: "An excellent look at designs from Cranbrook post Florence Knoll."

Home to a venerable tradition of leadership in design, Cranbrook’s former attendees include Knoll’s own Eero Saarinen, Florence Knoll, Harry Bertoia, Ralph Rapson, Niel Diffrient and Don Albinson. Focusing on the late-twentieth century period of the school’s history, Cranbrook Design: The New Discourse shifts the focus from the school’s early years to more recent contributions to the field of design, particularly in the realm of technology. Termed “interpretive design,” the featured works span posters, graphics, interiors, and furnishings designed to goad technology out of its black box by engaging users’ interpretive power and participation.

Furniture for Everyman by Brian Lutz, 2012 | Recommended Reading: Design 101 | Knoll Inspiration

Furniture for Everyman by Brian Lutz, 2012

BP: "The Saarinen furniture primer."

Written by former Knoll employee Brian Lutz, Furniture for Everyman is the first monograph of Eero Saarinen to focus exclusively on the designer’s furniture. Compiled using extensive materials from Knoll’s own archive, the book includes never-before-seen photographs of patent drawings, sketches, photographs and letters of Saarinen, one of the greatest furniture designers of the 20th century.