Founded in New York in 1938, Knoll is recognized worldwide as a leader in the design of residential and office furnishings, thanks to products that are inspiring, evolving and timeless.
The firm’s founder Hans Knoll belonged to the third generation of a family of furniture makers from Stuttgart, who had moved to the United States with the aim of transferring the ideas and forms of European design overseas. Knoll has always kept faith with the original tenets of the Bauhaus philosophy, according to which modern furniture should complete the architectural space, never compete with it.
With the precious contribution of his wife Florence, an active participant in the cultural movements of the time, Hans Knoll had from the outset the fundamental goal of producing furnishings with modern, exclusive design, made with the greatest care from the finest selected materials. Furniture for the office or the home that would stand out because of its unique personality and design and be capable of interpreting or even forecasting the evolution of lifestyles.
From its US headquarters, Knoll launched a project of international expansion, well ahead of the competition. In 1951, the company set up affiliates in France and Germany, hoping to take part in the projects of reconstruction in post war Europe. For Florence, the choice of designing the first European showroom in the dépendance of a cathedral in Paris offered a concrete opportunity to present the design and spirit of the Modern Movement to a new audience. In 1956 the European expansion continued with the opening of the first Knoll showroom in Italy, in the city of Milan.
Focusing on elegant avant-garde design, Knoll achieved fame and success in the 1950s by working with the most outstanding talents of the day, like Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Marcel Breuer, Eero Saarinen, Harry Bertoia and Florence Knoll herself, who influenced modern culture with their “landmark” products that transformed the ideals of the Bauhaus school into reality, based on the concept of consolidation of “art, industry and crafts.”
Since then, world-renowned architects and designers have continued to gravitate around to Knoll, inspired by the firm’s ongoing excellence, based on the design of Hans and Florence. The permanent collection of Knoll includes furnishings designed by Franco Albini, Don Albinson, Gae Aulenti, Enrico Baleri, Harry Bertoia, Achille Castiglioni, Frank Gehry, Alexander Girard, Haussmann, Piero Lissoni, Lovegrove, Mercer, Charles Pfister, Warren Platner, Charles Pollock, Jens Risom, Richard Sapper, Richard Schultz, Massimo & Lella Vignelli, Sottsass Associati, all the way to more recent contributions of David Adjaye and Barber & Osgerby.
Always in the design avant-garde, over the years Knoll has been able to keep the special personality of its unique, timeless furnishings intact. Alongside the historic products, including over forty classics held in the permanent collections of the world’s most important museums, new designs have continuously been added, capable of combining innovation and technology, reflecting the brand’s ability to envision personalized solutions and to diversify offerings to suit different markets, both for living spaces and workspaces.
The KnollStudio collection, for the residential sector, includes seating, tables and desks with a domestic look that also works perfectly in executive offices, modern classics that epitomize elegance and fine craftsmanship, through the distinctive, emblematic details of the Knoll style.
At the same time, the Knoll Office product line includes systems and seating for the office, desks in wood and metal, as well as cabinets and accessories for the workplace. Relying on unique experience in the creation of modern work environments, having monitored the evolution of the office over time, from managerial spaces to executive suites conceived to operate with a fully interconnected workforce, all the way to the more dynamic activities of contemporary businesses, Knoll Office still keeps faith with its original philosophy, firmly based on the needs of users, combining spatial research and innovative thinking.
In 2004 Knoll Inc. was listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), and today the firm has eleven monobrand showrooms in the United States, in cities like New York, Chicago, Washington DC, San Francisco and Boston, and with three proprietary showrooms in Europe: Milan, London and Paris. The company pursues its objective of offering design, innovation, functional excellence and quality all over the world, extending its reach into all markets through an intensive network of selected dealers.
While Knoll’s main offices are in the United States, with headquarters in New York and plants in Grand Rapids, Michigan, East Greenville, Pennsylvania and Toronto, Canada. It also has two production facilities in Italy: one in Foligno in Umbria and the other in Graffignana, South East of Milan. The production units apply the most advanced technologies, operated by staff specialized in specific processes, with a particular accent on safety and ecology. All the initiatives implemented and certifications obtained by Knoll confirm the brand’s commitment to excellence and sustainability.
The European division of Knoll has grown, reporting excellent results in recent years in both the residential and the office sectors. The approach involves investment in the brand and a greater focus on the company’s lifestyle proposition, applying the modern classics in the catalogue, such as the creations of Mies van der Rohe, Saarinen and Bertoia, to increase market visibility, while at the same time adding a contemporary approach with products designed by today’s outstanding talents, including Rem Koolhaas, David Adjaye and Barber & Osgerby.
Knoll has received many prizes and honors for its activities, including the National Design Award for Corporate and Institutional Achievement from the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in 2011.
In 2013 Knoll celebrated 75 years of design, based on a modernist avant-garde vision that extends to contemporary design for the home and office. Always timely. Always authentic.
In 2015 Knoll pays tribute to the centennial of the birth of HARRY BERTOIA by exploring the work of the eclectic designer in all his various art forms with the exhibition “Celebrate Harry Bertoia”.