Daughter of a baker, and orphaned at age of twelve, Florence Schust grew up in Saginaw, Michigan. At an early age Florence demonstrated her interest in architecture and enrolled at the Kingswood School for girls, adjacent to the Cranbrook Academy of Art. ... Read more
At Kingswood, Florence met Eilel Saarinen, whom would teach her then at the Cranbrook Academy, and with whom she developed a close relationship. The skills that Florence developed at Cranbrook, and the contacts she made, were actually the bases of her incredible education and pioneering career in design. Through Eliel Saarinen and Alvar Aalto’s recommendations, Florence was able to study at some of the greatest institutions such as Cambridge, Massachusetts and at the Illinois Institute of Technology; and to learn with some of the best 20th century architects, including Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.
In 1941, Florence moved to New York where she met Hans Knoll whom was establishing his furniture company. Thanks to Florence’s design skills and Hans’ business expertise, the couple, who married in 1946, grew the company into an international symbol of style and design.
Knoll’s Planning Unit division, created by Florence relying on her architecture skills, had space planning and comprehensive design to office planning as its main purposes. The Planning Unit rigorously researched and surveyed each client — assessing their needs, defining patterns of use and understanding company hierarchies — before presenting a comprehensive design, informed by the principles of modernism and beautifully executed in signature Knoll style. Florence and the Planning Unit were responsible for the interiors of some of America’s largest corporations, including IBM, GM and CBS.
As part of her work with the Planning Unit, Florence frequently contributed with furniture designs to the Knoll’s catalogue. She humbly referred to her furniture designs as the “meat and potatoes,” filler among the standout pieces of Bertoia, Mies, and Saarinen. However, thanks to her attention to detail many of her designs have become as revered and celebrated as those of her colleagues.
After the tragic death of Hans Knoll in 1955, Florence Knoll led the company as president through uncertain times. In 1960 she resigned the presidency to focus on directing design and development and, in 1965 after pioneering an industry and defining the landscape and aesthetic of the corporate office, Florence Knoll Basset (she remarried in 1957) retired from the company. Her contributions to Knoll, and to the rise of modernism in America, are immeasurable.Read more
Florence Knoll Furniture Designs
Florence Knoll Bench is ideal for both formal and informal settings, including lobbies and reception areas.
Florence Knoll Sofa and Armchair is a modern classic design for reception and lounge areas.
Florence Knoll Credenza, with optional integrated 23 litre refrigerator, in lacquer, marble and veneer.
Florence Knoll Low tables come in a variety of finishes, including glass, marble and granite.
Florence Knoll Table Desk top in wood, coated and natural marble, and natural granite.