‘Life changes, but quality endures’ is the essence of the Knoll brand. A collection of iconic pieces from the great modernists that have stood the test of time and become modern day classics. Florence Knoll studied under some of the greatest 20th century architects, including Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. In 1941 she moved to New York and met Hans Knoll who was establishing his furniture company. With Florence’s design skills and Hans’ business acumen and salesmanship, the pair, who married in 1946, grew the nascent company into an international arbiter of style and design. Florence also seeded contributions with her friends Eero Saarinen, Harry Bertoia, and Mies van der Rohe.
Eero Saarinen met Florence Knoll (né Schust) whilst studying. Florence spent all of her free time with the Saarinen family, including summer vacations to Finland. Florence and Eero developed a brother-and-sister-like relationship that would last the rest of their lives. Florence later recalled that her history with Eero made him her most honest and, often, harshest critic. When Florence joined Knoll in the 1940s, it was an obvious choice for her to invite Eero to design for the company. Saarinen designed many of the most recognizable Knoll pieces, including the Tulip chairs and tables and the Womb chair. Eero, who was known for being obsessed with revision, took a sculptural approach to furniture design, building hundreds of models and full scale mock-ups to achieve the perfect curve, find the right line, and derive the most pleasing proportions. His designs, which employed modern materials in graceful, organic shapes, helped establish the reputation and identity of Knoll during its formative years.
Harry Bertoia, a gifted artist was invited to set up his own metal shop in a corner of Knoll’s production facility. Having also studied with Bertoia, Florence was sure that he would produce something extraordinary if given the time and space to experiment. Today Knoll carries on Harry Bertoia’s legacy of innovation, inspiration, and beauty with the Bertoia collection, which has been in continuous production around the world since its introduction in 1952. Warren Platner graduated in 1941 with a degree in architecture but it was his furniture collection for Knoll, however, that earned Platner worldwide recognition. Originally introduced by Knoll in 1966, the Platner Collection is an icon of modern furniture. Platner personally formulated the production techniques for the complicated designs with each chair requiring over a thousand welds and more than one hundred cylindrical steel rods.
Regarded as one of the most important figures in the history of architecture, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s ‘less-is-more’ approach to design was the gold standard for many generations of modern architecture. He was selected to design the German Pavilion at the Barcelona Industrial Exposition of 1929. His design, a rhythmic arrangement of horizontal and vertical planes of glass, stone and metal was an experiment in free flowing space. With no discernable distinction between rooms or inside and outside, the design fundamentally challenged the architectural ‘boxes within a box’ standard of the time. Inside, Mies included the Barcelona Chair and Ottoman, designed to offer the King and Queen of Spain a place to rest (they in fact never sat down). The Barcelona Pavilion and the chairs it contained are universally recognized as milestones of modern design.
In honour of the great designers Florence Knoll, Bertoia, Platner, Saarinen and Mies van der Rohe we will be offering huge savings of up to 60% off during the Studio Italia Knoll Classics Sale June 1st to 17th.