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Monday, October 27, 2014

Florence Knoll Bassett

I started this blog September 6, 2010. Some of you have been readers since the beginning. Others have come on board later. From now through the end of the month, I'm going to be on a short blogging break. Not only am I in the middle of a big volunteer project, I'm also trying to help get the new store open, so I've decided share some of my favorite posts from the past four years. I'll throw in a few new photos for you longtime supporters who read the posts when they were first published.

(First posted 4/2/2011)

Born Florence Schust (1917- ) in Michigan, orphaned at age 12 and known to her friends as "Shu," she later became a protegée of Eliel Saarinen at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, as well as a close friend of his son Eero. She also studied at the Architectural Association in London and under Mies van der Rohe at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

After receiving her degree, she moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she worked briefly for Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer and Wallace K. Harrison. In 1943, she went to work for the Hans J. Knoll Furniture Company, which at that time was a small studio mainly manufacturing pieces by Scandinavian designers. By 1946, she had become a full partner in the firm and married Hans Knoll. Together they formed Knoll Associates and began to focus on International Style Modernism.

Her innovative concept of "total design" resulted in the formation of a "space planning unit," which created cohesive, comprehensive design by encompassing architecture, manufacturing, interior design, textiles, graphics, advertising and presentation. This reinvented Knoll's image and revolutionized the field. Her ideas still remain in practice today.

She acquired the rights to produce Mies van der Rohe´s "Barcelona" group, as well as work from other well-known designers, including Eero Saarinen, Isamu Noguchi, and Harry Bertoia.

She became president of the firm in 1955, when Hans Knoll was killed in a car accident. She retired in 1960, but she is still a consultant. In 1958, she married banker Harry Hood Bassett.

In 2004, the Philadelphia Museum of Art devoted a major exhibit to her life and work.

From and

Florence Knoll bench

Florence Knoll chair

Armless sofa

Oval desk table

Club chairs

Chrome and glass coffee and end tables

Florence Knoll sofa



  1. Very strong, clever and beautiful woman! She must be a very good merchant and consultant too- meaning this in an absolute positive way. I like women who are feminine in a "man's world"...

    1. Yes, she was demonstrating a great deal of business savvy before there were many women in business.