"Good design is good business." These are the words of Florence Knoll that frame the small-scale exhibition of her work at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Good design was not just a goal, but a constant mentality for Florence Knoll. With this mindset, she co-founded the boundary-breaking modern furnishings company, Knoll Associates.
Over time, Knoll Associates reshaped the landscape of post-war corporate interiors and midcentury homes with a modernist sensibility that reflected her ethos of "total design."
Florence Knoll died on January 25, 2019 at the age of 101. A selection of her work and print material are on display on the third floor of MoMA until March 18.
The exhibit presents archival KnollTextiles samples, a few of her iconic furniture designs and an array of print material. A glass vitrine shows Florence Knoll's famous textile kit, where fabric samples were looped together for ease of use; archival photographs of showrooms and private offices; and an original Knoll desk advertisement by Florence Knoll herself.
On the wall, a lithograph by Herbert Matter shows Eero Saarinen's Pedestal designs on a graphic background with the one of the Brand's old logos. Struck by Matter's talent, Florence Knoll brought him to Knoll Associates where he lead all visual communications for twenty years. He produced the Company's logo, catalogs, advertisements and display environments. Matter's graphics complemented Knoll's architectural vision in the spirit of "total design." The adjacent wall exhibits a lithography study of Bertoia's designs.
Next to Matter's advertisement, a Florence Knoll Credenza in walnut, marble and chrome-plated steel is paired with a Florence Knoll Coffee Table in rosewood and chrome-plated steel. Of her designs, Florence Knoll always said, "I was never really a furniture designer, but designed furniture to fill in the gaps when no other suitable furniture was available." Her designs as elements of a total environment were foundational to the Knoll Planning Unit.
Lastly, floating above the furniture, Pandanus fabric samples balance out the right angles and straight lines of Florence Knoll's designs. Of these woven designs, a Knoll Associates catalog from 1950 stated, "these heavy, homespun linens in muted checks were designed 'to broaden the base of good textiles within reach of everyone...Each has its balanced color, texture relationship, and sensitivity to are in the total plan'." KnollTextiles was yet another commitment to integrating a modernist ethos into all facets midcentury design.