Knoll – American International Furniture Manufacturer

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Knoll is an American and international furniture manufacturer.

Background

Knoll was established by Hans Knoll in 1938, initially the firm was called HG Knoll, on East 72nd Street, New York.

In 1955, his wife Florence Knoll assumed directorship.

In 1959, the firm was sold to Art Metal Inc, with W. Cornell Dechert as president and Florence Knoll as a design consultant. By the 1960s, Knoll had 20 showrooms in the USA and 30 worldwide. Robert Cadwallader replaced Florence Knoll as president in 1965.

Graphic design and advertising had been executed by Herbert Matter, who also left in 1965, and one of Cadwallader’s first moves was to appoint Massimo Vignelli in his place.

In 1971, Knoll Planning Unit was dissolved.

Designers

Furniture designers added to the stable included Gae Aulenti, Cini Boeri, Joe d’Urso, Hanna and Morrison, Carlos Riart, and Vignelli.

Other designers’ work included Charles Pfister’s 1975 table, Robert Venturi’s 1984 chairs, table, and sofa, Andrew Morrison’s 1974 office furniture, Richard Meier’s 1982 tables and chairs, Ettore Sottsass’s 1983 and 1986 chairs and sofas, and Frank Ghery’s 1991 bentwood collection.

Knoll always used the finest materials and craftsmanship. In its Mies line, stainless steel (not chromium plating) was used. Undergoing many changes of ownership, Knoll attempted to maintain its status while adding cheaper lines of systems, furniture, and furnishings. In a successful effort to enliven its textile line, fashion fabric designer Jhane Barnes was selected in the late 1980s. Knoll did not sell through its own retail outlets; both the 1969 showroom at Georg Jensen’s, Madison Avenue, New York, and the 1974 Bloomingdale’s plan failed.

Sources

Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing. https://amzn.to/3ElmSlL

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