Knoll has been a leading proponent of progressive furnishings and interior design since the early 1940s, when the company was formed under the direction of Hans Knoll, who had come to the United States from Germany to expand the family furniture business. Fundamental to Hans Knoll’s success was the partnership he began in 1943 with Florence Schust, a talented graduate of the Cranbrook Academy of Art who had studied architecture both at the Architectural Association in London and with Mies van der Rohe at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. Hans and Florence were married in 1946, and her contacts gave the company access to many leading modern designers. In addition to her experience and contacts, Florence Knoll brought a strong commitment to innovation and adherence to quality.
Organized along four themes, Knoll Textiles, 1945–2010 first considers the formation, shaping, and dissemination of the brand over time. The curatorial focus here is the importance of Knoll’s leadership and design directors who took risks to enhance innovation, promoted creativity, embraced new ideas and gave resources to develop them, ultimately leading to success within the design industry. This section also considers the significance of Knoll’s promotion and marketing of textiles.
Knoll is the recipient of the 2011 National Design Award for Corporate & Institutional Achievement.