75 Years of Modern Design

Hans & Florence Knoll

Hans & Florence Knoll

Famous for its modern design, Knoll is recognized internationally for its workplace furnishings that continue to resonate with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s declaration to “Create form out of the nature of our tasks with the methods of our time.” Founded by Hans Knoll in 1935, Knoll found his inspiration in the Bauhaus design movement — one of the first architectural and design philosophies that married interior design and architecture with arts and crafts. The Bauhaus movement gave birth to modern design, a design style recognized by its clean, simple lines and “truth to materials.” The honest and integral design style allows form and function to hold equal importance in the design. For example, supportive materials such as steel should be exposed and not hidden within the interior framework of a piece of furniture. This concept, remarkably modern in 1935 when Hans Knoll founded his modern furniture manufacturing company, remains equally innovative 75 years later.

Knoll’s commitment to modern design continues to yield a comprehensive portfolio of furniture products and textiles that blend well with other leading modern furniture designers and manufacturers and that offer businesses the ability to invest in a corporate workplace that remains as stylish as it is functional. Modern design may be the only design style that is as fashionable today as it was three quarters of a century ago.

Ron Welch, founder and CEO of bauhaus, has been a part of the Knoll journey for 34 of the 75 years that Knoll has been in business. Prior to founding bauhaus, a Knoll partner, Welch joined Knoll’s Chicago sales team in 1979. Reflecting on his early years with Knoll, Welch explains, “As a young man from Beaumont, Texas, I had no idea what design was all about. I certainly didn’t understand the commercial real estate industry and I was clueless about what a design scale was. Under Knoll’s mentoring, I learned style, design, sales, performance, accountability, financial accounting and most importantly the higher level thinking skills it takes to satisfy what a customer is looking for.” In 1989, Knoll Divisional Vice President Charlie Johnson suggested Welch consider moving into distribution management, which as Welch explains is where “design meets reality.”  And in 1994, Welch created bauhaus, a company built on Knoll and other leading designs, technology, performance, customers, parallel thinking, and details, details, details.

And so it is with much pride and happiness that bauhaus joins Knoll in celebrating their 75th anniversary this year. Happy Anniversary Knoll … A company as modern today as it was in 1935.