Since 1938, Knoll has been recognized for creating modern furniture that inspires, evolves, and endures. The designs of Eero Saarinen, Harry Bertoia, Florence Knoll and Mies van der Rohe are as exciting today as they were at their introduction.
From the late 1940s through the 1950s, Eero Saarinen designed many of the most recognizable Knoll pieces, including the Tulip Chairs and Pedestal Tables, the Womb Chair, and the 70 Series Executive Seating Collection. His designs used modern materials in graceful ways, helping establish the identity of Knoll during our formative years.
When Florence Knoll moved to a seaside home in Florida, she began sending the design team rusty pieces of furniture and requested that they develop something that would perform in the salty climate. Richard Schultz’s response was the aluminum Leisure Collection in 1966. It is regarded as the first collection of truly modern outdoor furniture.
Hans and Florence never demanded that Bertoia design furniture when they gave him a studio in an early Knoll factory. They simply asked that he show them if he arrived at something interesting. He arrived at something outstanding. Introduced in 1952, the Bertoia Collection remains one of the great achievements of modern design.
Renowned architect Mies van der Rohe mentored a young Florence Knoll while she was a student at Illinois Institute of Technology. Florence has always credited Mies as her most influential instructor and, in 1948, Mies granted Knoll exclusive rights to produce his furniture, including the Barcelona Collection, the Brno Chair, and MR Series.
Originally introduced by Knoll in 1966, the Platner Collection represents the designer’s attempt infuse modernism with “the kind of decorative, gentle, graceful kind of design that appeared in period style like Louis XV”. In celebration of the the 50th anniversary, the Platner Collection is now available with an 18k gold-plated finish.
Jens Risom joined the Hans Knoll Furniture Company in the early 1940s as the sole designer of interiors and furniture. Working ingeniously within the constraints of wartime material shortages, Risom designed his eponymous collection of chairs and tables using essentially scraps of wood and rejected nylon straps from parachute production.
Consistent with his renowned handcrafted work, the furniture Nakashima designed for Knoll in the 1940s balances the modern aesthetic with a deep respect for the inherent beauty of natural wood.
Both Charles Pollock chair designs for Knoll demonstrate his command of line, form and material. The Arm Chair, formerly the 657 Lounge, was reintroduced in 2014 to rejoin the Executive Chair and complete the Pollock Collection.
While at the Bauhaus, Marcel Breuer revolutionized the modern vocabulary with his tubular steel furniture. His first designs — inspired by bicycle construction and fabricated using the techniques of local plumbers — are among the most influential and important of the modern movement.
Florence Knoll humbly referred to her furniture designs as “meat and potatoes” — filler between the standout pieces of Bertoia, Mies, and Saarinen. 65 years later her furniture is anything but filler. Her attention to detail, eye for proportion, and command of the modern aesthetic resulted in some of the most celebrated furniture of the modern era.
With responsibilities ranging from photography and advertising to catalog and logo design, Matter defined the public image of Knoll during the company’s formative years. Perhaps Matter’s most memorable contributions are his advertisements, in particular his Womb Chair Chimney Sweep ad (top), which ran in the New Yorker for thirteen years.