The avant-garde movement of the mid-20th century is distinct in its form and function. Simple lines, ergonomic features, and elegant modernism have made the aesthetic of this time period relevant 60 years later. With furniture designed by stalwarts like Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Marcel Breuer, Eero Saarinen, Harry Bertoia, and Florence Knoll, the Bauhaus tenets of simplicity and functionalism live on. Recognizable and distinct, the 1950s stays contemporary through Knoll—a brand that for almost 80 years has keptthe timeless products of this movement inspiring, evolving, and constantly developing.
Bertoia cowhide chair by Harry Bertoia
Hans Knoll was a third-generation furniture maker from Stuttgart. He founded the company in New York in 1938 with one goal—to take the ideals and forms of European design across the Atlantic and to the United States. What kept the furniture of the Bauhaus movement unique was the philosophy it followed: “Modern furniture should complete the architectural space, never compete with it.”
Along with wife Florence, Hans established Knoll as a production house for exclusively designed modern furniture. Meticulous care was taken in specs and materials, and the couple used their experience to forecast trends that would meet the demands of people down the road. The 1950s saw one of Knoll’s most landmark successes. Following its collaborations with a veritable lineup of the decade’s biggest names, furniture under the brand gained worldwide popularity for its ability to capture the Bauhaus ideal of consolidating art, industry, and crafts.
Hans and Florence Knoll
Harry Bertoia and Warren Platner, designers of Knoll's Bertoia and Platner collections, respectively
Today, Knoll’s collection takes from a rich archive of statement designer furniture, but also continues to grow with constant collaborations with designers from David Adjaye and Barber & Osgerby to Charles Pollock, Massimo and Lella Vignelli, and Franco Albini among others. Its permanent collection hosts historic products—40 classics that are on display in museums all over the globe, as well as new designs that are carrying on Hans Knoll’s vision from the 1930s. Knoll has diversified enough to include both living spaces and workspaces without veering away from its original intent—to keep with the Bauhaus tenets that merge architecture and industrial design in complete harmony and coexistence.
The Avio sofa by Piero Lissoni
The different arms of Knoll cater to a myriad of audiences. The KnollStudio collection brings seating, tables, and desks to both the residential sector and executive offices. The Knoll Office line, on the other hand, includes systems for the workplace including seating, desks, and executive suites. Knoll Office tackles the evolution of office spaces over time and brings the classic Knoll aesthetic and functionalism into the evolving dynamics and activities of contemporary businesses.
Platner lounge chair in 18k gold-plated finish and Krusin collection chair by Marc Krusin
Womb settee by Eero Saarinen
Over time, Knoll has received accolades for its work in preserving and growing design throughout the years. In 2011, it received the National Design Award for Corporate and Institutional Achievement from the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. And in 2015, Knoll paid tribute to the centennial of Harry Bertoia’s birth with an exhibition aptly titled, “Celebrate Harry Bertoia.” Living Innovations, Fort Victoria, 5th Avenue corner 23rd Street, Bonifacio Global City; 734.3243.