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Florence Knoll Featured on Artsy

Artsy identifies seven things to know about design pioneer Florence Knoll

Artsy.com features Florence Knoll in an article titled, “7 Things to Know about Mid-Century Design Pioneer Florence Knoll.” Artsy, the premier online resource for art collection and education, honors Knoll’s 100th birthday with an article comprised of a few details everyone must know about such an iconic figure. The article reveres Florence Knoll for being a leader in her industry for decades. Aileen Kwun, Artsy contributor, writes, “Anyone who appreciates and recognizes classic designs from the mid-century period has Knoll Bassett to thank for revolutionizing the way we live and work in the modern home and office.”

To illustrate why anyone who appreciates functional and rational furniture must thank Florence Knoll for her innovation, Artsy.com presents the following factoids:

  • The Saarinens discovered her talents at age 12. Born in 1917 in Saginaw, Michigan, Knoll was orphaned by age 12 and, thanks to a foster guardian, enrolled in the Kingswood School where she met Eliel Saarinen. By age 14, Knoll designed her first concept for a house in addition to growing close with Eliel’s son, Eero Saarinen.
  • Trained by Bauhaus pedigree, she practiced a philosophy of “total design.” Having studied with many prominent figures such as Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Knoll learned to consider form and space at every scale: from the building structure, to its interiors and furnishings.

Florence Knoll Featured in Artsy

Four examples of CBS interiors designed by Florence Knoll. Image courtesy of Knoll Archive.

  • She revolutionized the world of post-war office interiors. Having a rather all-encompassing role at Knoll Associates, Florence Knoll founded and led both the Knoll Planning Unit (1945) and the KnollTextiles division (1947). It was because of the Planning Unit’s success that Knoll designed the corporate interiors of IBM, GM, CBS, and the Seagram Building.

  • “I am not a decorator.” By 1964 Florence Knoll had already become a prominent figure in the field of modern design. With a brighter spotlight on her work, Knoll sought to dispel any notion that she was a decorator with her assertive quote, “I am not a decorator. The only place I decorate is my own house.”

Florence Knoll Featured in Artsy

A room-full of the Florence Knoll Lounge Collection.

  • She was both a talent and an agent for other talents. Not only did Florence Knoll create over 100 furniture designs, but also, she looked to bring in outside talent to increase the company’s furniture portfolio. Knoll visibly credited and gave royalties to star designers like Mies van der Rohe, Breuer, Bertoia, and Isamu Noguchi.

  • Her enormous (and beloved) sheepdog was Knoll’s company mascot. The Old English Sheepdog named Cartree made an appearance in several 1950’s Knoll ads, becoming the de facto Knoll mascot. Cartree went everywhere Knoll went, making the people in her social and professional circles constantly smile.

Florence Knoll Featured in Artsy

A paste-up for the layout of the 2004 curated exhibit of her own work at the Philadelphia Museum.

  • She came out of retirement to design a mini-retrospective of her work. At age 87, Florence Knoll curated an exhibition of her work at the Philadelphia Museum. She roller up her sleeves and got to work, specifying each color, textiles, placement, and interior scheme with her signature “paste-up.” The success of the traveling exhibition is a clear indication that modern always works.

To celebrate a century of Florence Knoll and her inspired brand of modernism, the company has expanded the Florence Knoll Collection with the addition of new and archival products. Echoing the rational and architectural profile of the Florence Knoll Sofa and Settee, the newly introduced Florence Knoll Relaxed Lounge Seating presents a softer and deeper update of a timeless classic. The Collection also includes the Hairpin™ Stacking Table, an archival design introduced in 1945 and Florence Knoll End and Side Tables, a series of Florence Knoll Dining Tables, as well as the Mini Desk. ♦

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Florence Knoll Relaxed Lounge Chair
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Florence Knoll Relaxed Settee
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Florence Knoll Relaxed Sofa
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Florence Knoll Hairpin™ Stacking Table
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Florence Knoll Bench
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Florence Knoll Coffee and End Tables