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Florence Knoll
Designer of the Month

“I needed a piece of furniture, it was not there, so I designed it. ”
-Florence Knoll

florence knoll

Born in Saginaw, Michigan in 1917, Knoll, then Florence Schust, demonstrated an interest and aptitude for architecture from an early age. After she was orphaned at age 12 under tragic circumstances, Knoll was enrolled to Kingswood School, a fated decision, since the site of Kingswood stood adjacent to the prestigious Cranbrook Academy of Art.

While at Kingswood, Florence befriended Eilel Saarinen, whom she would later study under at Cranbrook. Warmly embraced by the Saarinen family, Florence vacationed with them in Finland, enjoyed the company of their accomplished friends, and formed a very close relationship with Eliel’s son, Eero. The connections she made and the skills she developed while at Cranbrook were the foundations of Florence Schust’s incredible design education and pioneering career. With recommendations from Eliel Saarinen and Alvar Aalto, Florence went on to study under some of the greatest 20th century architects, including Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Interior Architecture and Design

florence knoll interiors

In 1941 Florence moved to New York where she met Hans Knoll who was establishing his furniture company. With Florence’s design skills and Hans’ business acumen and salesmanship, the pair, who married in 1946, grew the nascent company into an international arbiter of style and design. Florence also seeded contributions with her friends Eero Saarinen, Harry Bertoia, and Mies van der Rohe.

florence knoll interiors

Florence frequently contributed furniture designs to the Knoll catalogue. She humbly referred to her furniture designs as the “meat and potatoes,” filler among the standout pieces of Bertoia, Mies, and Saarinen. However, with her attention to detail, eye for proportion, and command of the modern aesthetic, many of her designs have become as revered and celebrated as those of her colleagues.

Florence Knoll Lounge Chair

Florence Knoll Sofa

Florence Knoll Credenza New Edition

Florence Knoll Credenza 95