Florence Knoll Large Sideboard
Florence Knoll for Knoll International, sideboard, teak, marble and metal, United States, 1960s.
Iconic credenza with chromed base designed by Florence Knoll for Knoll International. It is rare to find this model sideboard with this length. This minimalistic designed credenza has modernist details, such as the chromed base and handles. This reliance on Industrial materials is a true commitment to the modernist ideals. The honesty and simplicity of the materials and function is what leads this design. The sideboard is equipped with smart storage facilities. This range of executive furniture accomplished a true revolution in the office world. Florence Knoll abandoned the then leading diagonal placement of executive desks within a room. Her preference was to place everything rectilinear, something that is now the leading design of almost every office space. Knoll observed: 'The parallel or L-shaped plan made more sense and saved square footage.' Knoll redesigned the office so that the storage was now in a cabinet parallel with the wall. 'This freed the desk to become a conference table, a complete evolution of design.'
Florence Knoll (1917-) was trained as an architect and had a sense of style from a very young age. During her school time 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 eminen 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 professionalism. 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. Measures: 4.2ft/2.8mtr.
Lutz, Brain. Knoll. A modernist universe. New York: Rizolli, 2010, p. 160.