While modern design has always been flooded with male designers, there were many groundbreaking women making names for themselves from the beginning. One of those women is Florence Knoll (born Florence Schust and now Florence Knoll Bassett) who has had an esteemed career spanning many decades. At 99 years of age, her influence is beyond measure and one that will undoubtedly last forever.
The Michigan native attended school near the Cranbrook Academy of Art and during that time came to know Eilel Saarinen and the entire Saarinen family, including Eero. She went on to study at Cranbrook and eventually under Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. A move to NYC in 1941 led to her meeting Hans Knoll, whom she married in 1946, and the two merged their skills to launch a furniture company. Her plentiful connections brought iconic pieces to light for Knoll from friends like Eero Saarinen, Harry Bertoia, and Mies van der Rohe. Along with her sought-after interior office planning, she contributed her own furniture designs to Knoll’s extensive catalog. She retired from Knoll in 1965, but her legacy will always live on in the design world.
Designed in 1954, the Florence Knoll Lounge Sofa is a timeless classic heavily influenced by her mentor, Mies van der Rohe, with minimalist, architectural lines and solid construction. The upholstered sofa is available in a variety of KnollTextiles and Spinneybeck leathers making it a great option for any type of space, including residential and commercial.
Matching the above sofa, the Florence Knoll Lounge Chair features the same clean lines and tufted cushions, and is still manufactured by Knoll using the original specifications from Florence herself.
Another part of the infamous 1954 Lounge Collection is the Florence Knoll Two-Seater Bench. The bench can be used to complement the other pieces in the collection or it can be used alone in any living or work space.
The classic Florence Knoll Square Coffee Table, which comes in a rectangle too, was designed in 1961 and is part of the Executive Collection. It’s geometric appeal, found in all of her work, is thanks to sharp metal angles and a bold tabletop in glass, natural marble, polished or satin (matte) coated marble, granite, finished wood, or veneer. Its understated elegance means it will never go out of style.
Introduced in 1961, the Florence Knoll 78-Inch Oval Table Desk was born the way many of Florence’s pieces were – by not finding what she needed for a space so she designed it herself. The minimalist design comes in a variety of tabletop options and perfectly works as either an office desk or a dining room table.
Rounding out her designs is her series of credenzas, including the Florence Knoll Four Cabinet Credenza. The streamlined cabinet was designed to offer executives additional storage when paired with inviting table desk, which does away with drawers.
Jaime Derringer, Founder + Executive Editor of Design Milk is a Jersey girl living the laid back life in SoCal. She dreams of designing textiles, running more than 8 miles + having enough free time to enjoy some of her favorite things—running, reading, and drawing.