the history of knoll

Knoll Showroom, One Arts Plaza, Dallas

Knoll was founded in 1938 by Hans G. Knoll, a German immigrant to the United States. His father was one of Germany’s first manufacturers of modern furniture. Before coming to the U.S., Knoll received his education in England and Switzerland, where he became familiar with the Bauhaus school of design and other 20th century figures of design and architecture.


Hans Knoll

Hans Knoll & Florence Knoll

Just one year after his arrival in the U.S., Knoll established the Hans G. Knoll Furniture Company in a second-story room on East 72nd Street in New York City. During World War II, Knoll met the young and talented Florence Schust — a space planner and designer who had an impressive résumé. The two were married in 1946 and formed Knoll Associates. It was Florence’s idea to incorporate the Bauhaus approach in their furniture design by offering pieces made with technological innovation that were easily mass-produced. In 1947, Knoll Associates opened a textiles division. The original collection of textiles was surprisingly influenced primarily by the men’s fashion industry.

View the bauhaus video here.

The Knolls sought out talented designers and believed their furniture designers should be credited by name and receive a royalty for their work. This practice continues today.

After the war, Knoll began searching for a manufacturing base outside of New York City. The company eventually settled in East Greenville, Pennsylvania in the early 1950s. The company’s largest manufacturing facility and headquarters remains there today.

Knoll Associates was the originator of the modern concept of interior design — designers working with customers to meet their business needs. At Knoll, the Planning Unit worked with clients to identify their workplace needs and develop furnishing solutions to meet those needs. A model used today by the corporate interior design industry. From this model, Florence Knoll coined the company’s motto: “Good design is good business.”

Knoll is dedicated to sustainable design, conserving natural resources and reducing waste. The company is a pioneer in Clean Technology, with a high commitment to environmental standards. Knoll strives to make efficient use of renewable resources.

Hans Knoll was tragically killed in a car accident in 1955. After his death, his wife, Florence, took over the company until her retirement from the industry in 1965. Today the company is run by individuals who were trained and inspired by Florence Knoll and are committed to continuing the company’s legacy of design excellence.