Florence Knoll for Knoll International Sideboard in Teak
Florence Knoll for Knoll International, sideboard, teak, steel, walnut, United States, 1961
This minimalistic sideboard was made with the aim of creating office furniture that would meet the special needs in establishing a pleasant and healthy working environment around the sixties. Knoll wanted to abandon the typical diagonal placement of the executive desk within a room. Her preference was a rectilinear arrangement of the furniture in the office. She noted that ‘The parallel or L-shaped plan made more sense and saved square footage.’ This sideboard is a perfect example in achieving these goals. This design is well-constructed based on an elongated body executed in teak, offering a variety of different storage possibilities. The brushed steel base features a solid construction of clear lines and sharp edges. The sides are executed in walnut showing nice wooden grains. The panels are equipped with brushed steel grips, emphasizing the sideboard’s modern and sleek appearance.
Florence Knoll (1917-) was trained as an architect and had a sense of style from a very young age. During her schooltime at Cranbrook, Eliel Saarinen (then the headmaster) and his family included her in their family. In 1936 she met Alvar Aalto and was trained by Marcel Breuer, Walter Gropius and (as if the long list of eminent designers is not long enough) Mies van der Rohe. This meant that although she was barely out of her teens, she was educated by the best of the European modernists. When she arrived in New York she worked on interior projects (being the only female) which is how she came to know Hans Knoll. When Florence joined Knoll, the planning unit started. Florence also made sure that the designs where more 'American Modernist' instead of Scandinavian, When Hans Knoll died she took over and did it with the utmost skill and professionality. Her long list of architect friends designed many famous pieces yet her own imprint on the company including her designs in what can be called 'humanist modernism' is what truly had the greatest impact.
Knoll International was founded in New York by the 26 year old German Hans Knoll (1914-1955) in 1938. Hans' father, Walter Knoll was a true modernist and furniture manufacturer who had a reputation for quality. When Hans Knoll died at a young age his wife Florence Knoll took over and under her influence the company flourished and created its best designs. She designed and led the company where she cooperated with talented designers such as Eero Saarinen, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Richard Schultz and Harry Bertoia.
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