Happy 100th Birthday, Florence Knoll!
This week marks the 100th birthday of design icon, Florence Knoll.
Florence Knoll is the founder of the famed modern furniture company, Knoll, and mother of what we know today as commercial interior design. Knoll collaborated with some of the greatest design minds of mid-century America and studied under architectural giants such as Mies Van Der Rohe, Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer. There are many facets of Knoll’s career which we could explore, but I want to focus on one: The Knoll Planning Unit.
Florence Knoll started the Knoll Planning Unit as a part of the furniture company founded by her and her late husband, Hans Knoll. Florence saw a need to design interior spaces that were functional to the users of those spaces, not merely decorate them. This is the huge distinct between interior decoration and interior design, although the two very different jobs are often confused.
By creating the Knoll Planning Unit, Florence Knoll birthed the commercial interior design profession. Much more than decorating, interior designers draw on their architectural backgrounds to define space, efficiency and functionality in office planning. The needs of these spaces were often drivers for the furniture that the furniture arm of Knoll would develop. Her process was the forefather of what we now call programming a space: surveying the client, understanding functionality and adjacency needs of departments and general patterns of use within the space.
I spent 10 years of my career in commercial interior design and 4 years at Knoll as an A&D Manager, so I owe much of my career to Florence Knoll. On top of all of her achievements, she set the standard for timeless, modern design and women in leadership. She is a true visionary. Happy Birthday, Schu!