First opening its doors for business in New York in 1938, Knoll is now recognised worldwide, as a leader in the design of residential and office furnishings; the direct result of products that are inspiring, evolving and timeless.
The firm’s founder, Hans Knoll, a member of the third generation of a family of furniture makers from the German city of Stuttgart, went to live and work in the United States with the aim of implementing the ideas and forms of European design in the ‘New World’. Along with his wife, Florence, an active participant in the cultural movements of the time, Hans Knoll was, from the very beginning, committed to producing furnishings with contemporary and distinctive designs, made with the utmost attention to detail from the very finest materials. This encompassed furniture for the office or the home that stood out from the crowd because of its unique character and design, and was capable of interpreting or even predicting the development and evolution of lifestyles.
From its US centre of operations, Knoll began to expand globally, well ahead of the competition. In 1951, the company set-up affiliates in France and Germany, eager to participate in the reconstruction of post-war Europe. For Florence, the chance to design the first European showroom in the dépendance of a cathedral in Paris, presented an exciting and tangible way to acquaint a new audience with the design and spirit of the Modern Movement. In 1956, their expansion in Europe continued with the opening of the first Knoll showroom in Milan, Italy.
Focusing on elegant avant-garde design, Knoll achieved recognition and increasing success in the 1950s by working with some of the decade’s most dazzling talent, such as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Marcel Breuer, Eero Saarinen, and Harry Bertoia. And of course, there was Florence Knoll herself who influenced modern culture with ‘landmark’ products that transformed the beliefs and definitions of the Bauhaus school into reality, driven by the notion of the consolidation of ‘art, industry and crafts’.
Knoll has always stayed true to the original creed of the Bauhaus philosophy, which dictates that modern furniture should complete the architectural space, never compete with it.
Leading architects and designers have continued to be drawn to Knoll, inspired by the firm’s continuing excellence and commitment to quality, based on the designs of Hans and Florence. Invariably in the design avant-garde, Knoll has consistently been able to keep the unique individuality of its timeless furnishings intact. Alongside the firm’s time-honoured products, which include more than 40 classics kept in the permanent collections of the world’s most important museums, new designs have constantly been added, merging innovation and technology, reflecting the brand’s ability to imagine personalised solutions, and bringing variety to suit diverse market sectors, both for the office and the home.