Journal Article

‘I Am Not a Decorator’: Florence Knoll, the Knoll Planning Unit and the Making of the Modern Office

Bobbye Tigerman

in Journal of Design History

Published on behalf of Design History Society

Volume 20, issue 1, pages 61-74
Published in print January 2007 | ISSN: 0952-4649
Published online January 2007 | e-ISSN: 1741-7279 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jdh/epl042
‘I Am Not a Decorator’: Florence Knoll, the Knoll Planning Unit and the Making of the Modern Office

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The Knoll Planning Unit (1943–71), the interior design service of Knoll Associates, was responsible for some of the most innovative corporate interior design of the post-war period. The Planning Unit was directed by Florence Knoll (born 1917), who trained as an architect and designed buildings, interiors, furniture and textiles over the course of her career. Florence Knoll was part of a movement to professionalize interior design in America and played a key role in defining the new field of interior design. The offices she designed for the Planning Unit were distinguished by a humanized modernism which combined spare form with rich textures and vivid colour. They showcased the Knoll look, a recognizable combination of furniture, colours and fabrics that became the trademark of Knoll design. Through a combination of prestigious clients, astute promotion and skilled staff, Florence Knoll and the Knoll Planning Unit turned this corporate humanized modernism into a ubiquitous reality.

Keywords: corporate interior design; interior design history; Knoll, Florence; Knoll look; Knoll Planning Unit; modernism, humanized

Journal Article.  6435 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Art ; Art Forms ; Industrial and Commercial Art ; Art Styles

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