• Explore the Archives

Introducing KnollTextiles: The Early Years

In the 1940's, Florence Knoll was determined to find suitable modern upholstery for Knoll furniture. In a market dominated by traditional decorator wares, she turned to grey and beige tweeds and flannels from Scotland for use in commercial interiors. This began her legacy of innovation and the birth of KnollTextiles as a brand.


 

 

‘Apples’ (1948) by Stig Lindberg, a screen printed linen, jute and cotton drapery. ‘Chinese Coins’ (1950) by Noemi Raymond, a screen printed rayon drapery. ‘Prestini’ upholstery (1947) by Toni Prestini. ’Campagna’ (1947) by Angelo Testa, a screen printed linen drapery. Florence Knoll’s hand written notes about designers she was hiring for Textiles. First advertisement for the ‘Textile Division' of Knoll A 1951 'LIFE' Magazine article about Hans & Florence Knoll. 'Attractive husband-and-wife team made a modern success of making modern furniture.' 1947 New York Times announcement of ‘Textile Division, of Knoll Associates, Inc.'

KnollTextiles in the 1950s to early 1960s

Florence Knoll invited cutting edge designers and artists to collaborate with the KnollTextiles in an exploration of new materials and constructions. Forward-thinking designers, such as Albers, Huguenin & Haraszty helped to direct and define the company’s ever-evolving identity.


 

 

Handwoven textiles from early 1950s by Evelyn Hill. ‘Linea’ (1963) by Suzanne Huguenin, a screen printed linen drapery. 3”x 3” sampling with original branding shows a snap shot of Textiles Division early offerings. ‘Eclat’ 1974 by Annie Albers, a screen printed linen & cotton for drapery & upholstery. Annie Albers worked with KnollTextiles for over 20 years. We reproduced 'Eclat' in 2007 as woven upholstery ‘Eclat Weave’. ‘Diamonds’ (1951) by Albert Herbert, a screen printed linen drapery. 
‘Fibra’ (1953) by Eszter Haraszty, a screen printed linen drapery based on the heddles of a loom. Fibra is one of the best known KnollTextiles archives and is in the permanent collection of the MOMA. We reproduced 'Fibra' in 2007 as a woven upholstery in a smaller scale.

Celebrating 70 Years of KnollTextiles with the Archive-Inspired Signature & Legacy Collections

To honor Florence Knoll's founding vision of modern design, Creative Director Dorothy Cosonas and her team delved into the archives, searching for classic textural solid textiles that could be adapted for today's market. The Signature Collection is the first archive-inspired collection to launch in 2017.


 

 

‘Uni-Form’ is a beautifully colored basket weave inspired by ’Toulouse’ (1979). 'Uni-Form' is a part of the latest Legacy Collection. The iconic ‘Cyclone’, a winning design from a 1972 international student exhibition, is now available in 4 new colors as part of the new Legacy Collection. Inspired by archival fabrics Bourette (1973) and Accord (1984), 'Feeling Plaid' is a fun and chic large-scale full repeat pattern. The dynamic mixture of colors in Feeling Plaid is achieved with a custom loom set up where 5 colors of wool and 5 colors of rayon are used in both the warp and weft directions. The split of rayon and wool create a beautiful balance of matte (wool) and luster (rayon) in the upholstery. ‘Looking Glass’ is a light & airy 118” wide knitted drapery, inspired by archives ‘Fiberglass Casement’ (1957) & 'Wool Casement' (1957). It is available in 6 color options, including a dramatic black option, as part of the new Legacy Collection. ‘Little Devil’, part of the Signature Collection, is an interpretation of Marianne Strengell’s 1951 upholstery ‘Devil’. This allover texture has a super soft hand created by using boucle and chenille in the warp and weft directions. ‘Alter Ego’ is based on multiple archives including a 1947 textural solid designed by Toni Prestini, Suzanne Huguenin’s Knoll Nylon Homespun (1965) and Executive Tweed (1968). From sheep to loom, Alter Ego is 100% American wool upholstery. An artisanal process blends up to 6 unique colors of wool fiber to create the multidimensional and heathered yarns used in the upholstery. A final finishing process creates a soft luster and hand.

The Legacy Collection is the Second Archive Inspired Collection of 2017, Celebrating 70 Years of KnollTextiles

"Our 70th anniversary was a great opportunity to revisit and reinvigorate product from past decades". - Creative Director Dorothy Cosonas


 

 

‘The Legacy Collection's ‘Pullman’ upholstery is woven with chenille novelty yarn to create super soft allover texture with visible dimension. Pullman is inspired by ‘Kerry Linen’ (1953). ‘Catwalk’ upholstery is a fashion driven window pane pattern with multi-colored textural line work. Part of the new archive-inspired Legacy Collection, Catwalk is inspired by ‘Knoll Irish Tweed Grid’ (window pane) and ‘Kincaid’ (ground), both launched in 1978. Novelty Yarn used in the Legacy Collection's ‘Catwalk’ & ‘Modern Tweed’ upholstery fabrics plus yarn for ground cloth of Catwalk. ‘Modern Tweed’ upholstery is the compliment to pattern Catwalk. It is based on a smaller scale grid and utilizes the same spaced dyed novelty yarn to create an allover multi-colored highly textural upholstery. Modern Tweed is based on archival pattern Protea (1973) and an unnamed hand woven upholstery from the 1960s. ‘‘Stretch Appeal’ is a 4 way stretch upholstery, making it a great solution for curvy and organic shaped furniture pieces. The coloration is inspired by hues found in multiple archives. ‘In Stitches' upholstery is inspired by Knoll Nylon Homespun Pinstripe (1977). It features thin vertical ticking stripes available in on-trend neon and classic hues on a heathered ground cloth.

The Planning Unit (1944 to 1965) and Sampling Tools

Florence Knoll was known for her exacting eye and painstaking attention detail, often critiquing a design down to the millimeter. “Instead of being a quarter of an inch, it ought to be a three-eight-inch radius,” she once commented in a review. Her meticulous methods of assessing a client’s needs were clear in her sketches, annotations, and “paste-up” cardboard models.


 

 

1962 Textiles color wheels from a Knoll catalogue mock-up by Florence Knoll & Herbert Matter. 1964 New York Times article on Florence Knoll. 'Woman Who Led an Office Revolution Rules an Empire of Modern Design.' Various upholstery samples with ’Inca’ (1965) by Sheila Hicks on top. Florence Knoll’s Planning Unit brings materiality into interior sketches. Planning Unit image with Florence Knoll’s handwritten notes. From the Planning Unit. The drawing and installation are remarkably alike, down to the detail of artwork & plants. Paul Maute woven strikes for Sheila Hicks ‘Inca’. ’Cato’ (1961) by Paul Maute is KnollTextiles’ longest running upholstery.  It is still in the line today.

Florence Knoll & Herbert Matter: A Team of ‘Unmatched Ability’ in Ads & Graphics

Florence Knoll collaborated with Herbert Matter, the company’s second graphic designer and photographer, during the brand's most formative years, 1946-1966. Together, they did more than shape the company’s public image, they shaped its underlying identity. “We worked beautifully together,” says Florence of her time with Matter, “we were doing something new.”


 

 

Revolutionary KnollTextiles ads designed by the dynamic duo of Florence Knoll & Herbert Matter. From left to right: A 1955 ad highlighting the durability of Astrid Sampe's 'Rugby' upholstery, A 1954 ad featuring Eszter Haraszty's 'Fibra' and 'Triad', A 1960s ad featuring 'Scotch Linen's upholstery, A 1963 ad highlighting texture and exciting color combinations. This 1965 ad features ’York’ upholstery used to create a collage of the New York City skyline. This is the last ad Matter worked on with Florence. A 1956 American Fabric Magazine Knoll advertisement featuring fabric swatches and a map showing Knoll's global reach. Image & a short biography of Herbert Matter, one of the great examples of 20th century graphic design. First holistic graphic identity for Knoll Inc., designed by Herbert Matter. The 1965 iconic fish advertisement, featuring a variety of KnollTextiles. Sampling tools designed by the pair that revolutionized the world of modern textile design.

Discover our Archive-Inspired Designs

The new archive-inspired Signature & Legacy Collections honor our brand's 70th anniversary and founder's 100th birthday. Creative Director Dorothy Cosonas and her team reinterpreted several classic archival upholstery and drapery fabrics for today's market.