KnollTextiles, the textiles trailblazer renowned for infusing beauty with function, celebrates its 75th anniversary in July 2022 by introducing The Heritage Collection: eight archive-inspired textiles that continue to evolve the modernist tradition.
The origin of Knoll's textile division lay in what Florence Knoll called "necessity," as her design vision was initially hampered by the lack of "suitable" fabrics available in the post-war period. Inspired by menswear, Florence modified wool from the garment industry, resulting in the first commercial upholstery. This unexpected adaptation of simple menswear fabric for furniture application signified the first step in Florence Knoll's enduring legacy of innovation and the founding of the KnollTextiles business in 1947.
The 75th anniversary provided the KnollTextiles design team an opportunity to mine its extensive archives for timeless products ripe for revision, whether that be an updated palette, design modifications, or fiber content changes to meet performance attributes appropriate for today's commercial standards.
Innovation in Material:
The classic, simple-weave cotton upholstery Prestini (1947) joins the new millennium with custom-made bleach-cleanable novelty yarn that recreates the same appealing high-twist texture and depth as the original. Once a silk and linen specialty panel fabric, Firenze (1985) is now a high-performance, multipurpose wallcovering that maintains the aesthetic of natural fibers. Likewise, Evelyn Hill's Kerry Linen drapery (1953) is interpreted as Kerry, a refined classic wool drapery fabric. Open-knit drapery is in KnollTextiles’ DNA, and the delicate Filigree (1965 – designer unknown), initially inspired by fishing nets, is now inherently flame-resistant with Trevira® CS polyester.
New End-Uses for Iconic Prints:
Eyeing the future as they dipped into the past, the design team elected to change the end-use of some archival patterns in order to make the offerings more usable to a broader swath of specifiers. The iconic Rivers, designed by Gretl and Leo Wollner (1972), was initially printed on cotton and available only in three-meter panels. Rivers today is a full-width repeat upholstery with enhanced watercolor-like pigmentation, made possible with digital printing. Angelo Testa's equally iconic Campagna (1947) screenprinted linen drapery is re-introduced as Campagna Wall. The hand-drawn geometric now lives on this PVC-free wallcovering with Type II characteristics.
The impactful use of rainbow novelty yarn in Aurora (1988) inspired our designers to source a unique multicolor space-dyed yarn for each color way of Aurora upholstery. A new creation altogether, Homage celebrates KnollTextiles' history of creating exaggerated textures with a hand-crafted aesthetic. In this case, Homage fuses three archival contributions: Buster by Marianne Strengell (1947), Jupiter (1967 - Julia Kleiner) and Marabu (1972- designer unknown). The individual patterns and textures now appear collaged together as a study of ten unique weave structures bound with a highlight of chunky contrast stitching.
In every era, KnollTextiles has been celebrated for its continuous exploration of innovative techniques and materials that create original textiles layered with rich, dimensional beauty and offer a hand-crafted aesthetic. True to form, the Heritage Collection combines the best archival design with next-generation technology, a union that could only result from KnollTextiles' fresh design eye.
The goal in reinterpreting Toni Prestini's 1947 classic was to capture the essence of the original upholstery using materials that would meet the performance requirements for today's contract market.
Prestini has a rich color effect and interesting texture achieved by using novelty yarn in a simple weave structure. KnollTextiles created a custom bleach cleanable polyester boucle yarn with the same texture, twist and high-relief effect as the original upholstery.
The fresh white ground combines custom-dyed boucle yarn in fourteen timeless colorways. Color number four (yellow/white) was custom dyed to match the 1947 yellow.
Prestini Upholstery, 1947
Toni Prestini (1909-1998)
The dimensional stability and balanced quality of Prestini were well suited to the organic curves of Knoll's modern furniture and became a standard fabric for Harry Bertoia chairs in the 1950s.
This inexpensive, machine-woven upholstery fabric manufactured in the US remained a staple of the KnollTextiles line until 1982, long after the other cotton upholsteries had been discontinued.
As the KnollTextiles design team considered Rivers, they quickly saw an opportunity to create an intriguing upholstery fabric with bold multicolor stripes. The scale and repeat of the design were adjusted to create a full-width, non-repeating organic pattern.
Current digital printing technology allowed the team to enhance and exaggerate the watercolor effect. The design team carefully studied the gradations of color, creating a masterpiece of color blending within each stripe.
Rivers Drapery Panels, 1972
Gretl(1920-2006) & Leo Wollner(1925-1995)
Designers Gretl and Leo Wollner specialized in extra-large, non-repeating patterns to be printed as drapery panels. They developed new printing techniques, including oversized screens requiring four workers to manipulate, which enabled them to produce floor-to-ceiling prints with no repeat.
Rivers was a striking and innovative design with undulating lines printed on cotton velvet. Subtle gradations of color within the stripes were achieved by mixing the dyes during printing, creating an effect reminiscent of watercolor.
The decorative panels showcased Knoll's use of vibrant color combinations. Rivers drapery panels were in production until 1978.
Homage celebrates KnollTextiles' history of creating exaggerated textures with a hand-crafted aesthetic.
The upholstery is the fusion of archival contributions: Buster by Marianne Strengell (1947), Jupiter (1967) and Marabu (1972). The individual patterns now appear collaged together as a study of ten unique weave structures bound with a chunky boucle accent color.
Marabu Upholstery, 1972
Jupiter Upholstery, 1967
Julia Kleiner (1900-1992)
Buster Upholstery, 1947
Marianne Strengell (1909-1998)
Marianne Strengell, a significant contributor to Knoll's collection of upholstery fabrics, designed Buster in 1947. Strengell's philosophy was that upholstery fabric should play an equal, essential, and fully integrated role with architectural details or furniture in the modern interior, and that textiles, like architecture must be functional as well as beautiful.
The rainbow-colored space-dyed yarn made Aurora an attractive candidate for updating. The menswear-inspired upholstery incorporates a playful twist through the multicolored yarn that sparkles ever so slightly in the light.
Aurora Upholstery, 1985
Open-knit draperies are in KnollTextiles' DNA.
The first step in updating Filigree was to upgrade the contents to inherently flame retardant Trevira® CS Polyester. The weight of the drapery was also increased to create a more substantial offering that still appears as delicate as its predecessor.
The new Filigree has an expanded palette, including three usable neutrals, plus persimmon red and cornflower blue.
Filigree Drapery, 1965
The design of Filigree was an imaginative interpretation of ”major and minor” fish nets with linked and twisted elements.
Evelyn Hill's Kerry Linen loosely inspires Kerry. Hill was best known for hand weaving. This wool, silk and linen drapery embraces its natural contents and shows a beautiful slub texture. Kerry leans into rich jewel tones as the yarns take color so well.
Kerry Linen Drapery, 1953
Evelyn Hill (1923-2003)
Evelyn Hill studied at Black Mountain College in North Carolina under Josef Albers, whom she later cited as having an enormous impact on her work. She continued her studies at the Institute of Design in Chicago and as an apprentice to Cranbrook-trained weaver Majel Chance. Hill worked only briefly in the contract textiles industry, but the designs she introduced at Knoll vastly broadened the scope of the company's early textiles program.
In the early 1950s, as Knoll was beginning to position itself as a major textiles manufacturer, a special handweaving studio was set up under Hill’s direction. Her ability to bring designs conceived on a weaver's loom to production brought new possibilities of texture and depth to the Knoll collection.
Firenze is designed to emulate the original linen and silk look with bleach-cleanable polyester content.
Six yarn colors in the weft give the wallcovering the impression of natural fibers. While Firenze appears simple, it is actually an intricate blending of colors and texture.
Firenze Panel Fabric, 1985
Firenze was designed as a linen and silk specialty panel fabric.
The design studio translated Angelo Testa's iconic Campagna as a highly usable PVC-free wallcovering with Type II characteristics. The original design was screen printed on linen for drapery application.
Campagna Wall has the same hand-drawn, large-scale geometric pattern with only a slight adjustment to the pattern repeat and line weight to accommodate a wallcovering end-use.
The ground has a subtle texture with a watercolor wash. A linen emboss pays homage to the original drapery.
Campagna Drapery, 1947
Angelo Testa (1921-1984)
Angelo Test was a prominent American textile designer of the 20thcentury. Campagna, likely named after Testa’s friend Paul Campagna, epitomizes designer Angelo Testa's design vocabulary of linear and geometric forms, commonly associated with his Bauhaus training. It is also one of Testa's most well-known designs and represents a moment in postwar America when textiles were a very calculated part of every modern interior. The concentric rectangles are softened with a hand-drawn appearance.
When making Campagna, Testa was inspired by the “furrowed fields of the Middle West as viewed from an airplane.’” NY Times, 1947.
KnollTextiles reintroduced Campagna during its 50th anniversary.
Founded by Florence Knoll in 1947, KnollTextiles explores the beauty and function of textiles for contemporary interiors. Through intricate techniques and materials, KnollTextiles unite richly layered texture, pattern, and color across upholstery, drapery, wallcovering, panel, and privacy fabrics. The collection includes the studio’s own work along with collaborations with designers, artists and architects including David Adjaye, Irma Boom, Maria Cornejo, Rodarte, and Proenza Schouler. KnollTextiles was the subject of a major retrospective at the Bard Graduate Center in 2011 and is featured in the permanent collection of Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian National Design Museum . KnollTextiles is a division of Knoll, Inc., and maintains a marketing and design studio in New York.