The Knoll Brand: Modern Sensibility at Work
The Knoll brand is synonymous with high-quality, modern design. Founded in 1938 by Hans and Florence Knoll, the company has been a leader in furniture design for over 80 years. Today, Knoll offers a wide range of furniture products for both residential and commercial settings. Creating inspiring modern interiors together with their clients and designers is what Knoll is all about.
Knoll's commitment to quality craftsmanship and attention to detail is evident in every piece of furniture they produce in their Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ontario, Foligno, and Graffignana manufacturing sites. Their timeless style and dedication to design integrity ensure they will never go out of fashion.
The Knoll Brand got its start in 1938, when founder Hans Knoll, a woodworking craftsman, created functional and elegant pieces for customers in New York. With inspiration from Bauhaus, a movement unheard of in the US at the time, Hans focused on designs that were beautiful in a clean and functional way.
The mid-1940s brought about a period of expansion. Hans married Florence Schust, an influential architect, in 1946. Florence, who designed her first house concept at age 14 with the guidance of the Saarinen family, displayed great architectural talent from a young age. She then attended the Cranbrook Academy of Art, Illinois Institute of Art, and the Architectural Association of London where she refined her emerging style.
Pulling Florence’s design talent and Hans’ flair for business, they created Knoll Associates. They got their big break when hired by the Rockefellers to design the Rockefeller Family Offices in New York City. This Launched Hans and Florence's business into the limelight of other high-profile clients like Saarinen, Eames, Bertoia, and Platner. Popular pieces Knoll created through collaboration with these clients include:
- Eero Saarinen- Womb Chair (1948)
- Harry Bertoia- Diamond Chair (1952)
- Eero Saarinen- Tulip Chair (1956)
- Warren Platner- Seminal Seating and Table Collection (1966)
The big office boom ultimately died down in the late 1970s and 1980s. Furniture sales slowed as a result, and Knoll Associates was bought out by General Felt Industries. It was then made public in 1983.
The mid-'80s and '90s were tough on the furniture Industry. Still, Knoll soldiered on, releasing its Pfister Lounge Collection (office desks and side chairs), Stephens Office Seating Collection (office seating options), and Mercer Collection (formal, geometrically interesting tables) just to name a few, as well as opening the Soho Knoll Design Center that served as exhibition space and central marketing and sales hub. It was ultimately bought out by Westinghouse in 1990 and again in 1999 to Warburg Pincus Ventures.
The Modern Knoll
With the upturn of the market and furniture industry, Knoll furniture was able to focus on new textile-centered products and collections such as KnollStudio, a collection that specializes in classic Knoll designs such as modern side and lounge seating, tables, and storage.
In 2021, Knoll Furniture rebranded into MillerKnoll. The Herman Miller and Knoll merged brand is a high-end, modern furniture brand known for its quality craftsmanship and simplistic designs. MillerKnoll aims to work with architects and designers as they did from the beginning to create innovative and inspiring pieces.
The Knoll Brand
Founders Hans and Florence were proponents of the Bauhaus School and its design style. Bauhaus was a German art school that operated from 1919 to 1933 with the goal of combining arts and crafts to create a new type of artist: one who was equally skilled in both disciplines.
The Bauhaus style is characterized by its simplicity and functionality. Bauhaus designers believed that form should follow function, and they strived to create products that were both beautiful and useful.
The Knoll brand is closely associated with the Bauhaus style. Hans Knoll, the company's founder, was a student at the Bauhaus school, and his minimalist designs reflect its principles.
The Bauhaus style has had a lasting influence on modern design, and the Knoll brand is one of its most prominent representatives. MillerKnoll continues to produce furniture that is both beautiful and functional, just as the Bauhaus designers intended. Good
Knoll offers a wide variety of classic and contemporary products, including office, living, dining, and special collection furniture that will bring a sense of sophistication to your space. It is characterized by sleek, modern, and simplistic seating, tables, lighting, and accessories.
MillerKnoll implements creations from numerous designers, including Lella and Massimo Vignelli, Don Chadwick, Marcel Breuer, Lucia Mercer, Markus Jehs and Jurgen Laub, David Adjaye, and many, many more.
1. Vintage Florence Knoll Rosewood and Marble Top Credenza
This Knoll credenza was designed by Florence Knoll in the 1950s and features a Brazilian rosewood veneer with a marble top. It is a classic example of mid-century modern design. It is a versatile piece, with eight roomy drawers.
Florence Knoll designed this credenza when she couldn’t find the perfect piece for a job. Inspired by her mentor, Mies van der Rohe, she decided to create her own piece, planning each part with the utmost attention to detail.
2. Original Womb Chair
When Florence Knoll requested "a chair that was like a basket full of pillows - something she could really curl up in." Eero Saarinen stepped up to the challenge. He designed this timeless piece that has become an icon of mid-century modern design and comfort in 1946. The Knoll Original Womb Chair is the perfect choice if you're looking for a classic piece of furniture with a sophisticated touch to your home.
Saarinen is quoted explaining, “It was designed on the theory that a great number of people have never really felt comfortable and secure since they left the womb. The chair is an attempt to rectify this maladjustment in our civilization." and that "There seemed to be a need for a large and really comfortable chair to take the place of the old overstuffed chair. . . . Today, more than ever before, we need to relax."
3. Gehry Cross Check Chair
Designed by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, the Knoll Gehry Cross Check Chair is a modern classic. The chair's unique design features two crossed pieces of maple wood that create an X-shaped frame.
Gehry's poetic forms produce the illusion of movement with his trademark wavering and undulating style. The result is a sturdy and stylish chair perfect for those wanting to mix comfort and style.
4. Knoll Tulip Dining Table
Designed by Eero Saarinen, the Knoll Tulip Dining Table's precision and impeccable construction set it apart from other rounded dining tables.
The table's pedestal base provides support while freeing up legroom, making it the perfect choice for small spaces, with the ability to add additional seating when needed.
With its simple and refined design, the Knoll Tulip Dining Table is an excellent choice for any modern home.
5. Saarinen Tulip Chair Set (4 pieces)
Eero Saarinen designed this set of four tulip chairs for Knoll International in 1956. They’re made from molded fiberglass and cast aluminum and pair perfectly with the Knoll Tulip Dining table.
Together, they were originally known as the “pedestal group” for their singular bases as opposed to traditional four-legged chairs. Saarinen found his inspiration from nature as evidenced in the way they appear to “blossom” from a singular “stem” like a flower- a tulip.
Commitment to Environmental Sustainability
MillerKnoll is committed to being a responsible and sustainable company, and they are proud to be recognized as a leader in environmental sustainability practices. MillerKnoll has set sustainability goals to reduce its carbon footprint by 50%, eliminate single-use plastics, reduce waste, and source high-quality materials that are responsibly and sustainably produced.
MillerKnoll is also committed to reducing their energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. They have implemented a number of energy-saving initiatives into their manufacturing facilities and are constantly exploring new ways to reduce their environmental impact.
The Knoll Brand - Final Thoughts
Modern function and style are synonymous with the Knoll brand. From humble beginnings as a craftsman on East 72nd Street in New York to a collection of internationally acclaimed designers that make up the company today, MillerKnoll remains an influential and dominant force in the furniture industry. Its Bauhaus-centric style coupled with sustainability-minded practices and guarantee Knoll’s bright future for years to come.