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Florence Knoll


Florence Knoll Bassett (born May 24, 1917) is an American architect and furniture designer who studied under Mies van der Rohe and Eliel Saarinen. She was born in Saginaw, Michigan as Florence Schust and is known in familiar circles simply as "Shu". She graduated from the Kingswood School before studying at the Cranbrook Academy of Art (both institutions are located on the same campus in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan). Knoll also received a bachelor's degree in architecture from Armour Institute (now Illinois Institute of Technology) in 1941 and briefly worked with leaders of the Bauhaus movement, including Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer, and the American modernist, Wallace K. Harrison.

Furniture Design
Florence Knoll stated that she was not a furniture designer, perhaps because she didn’t want her Florence Knoll Benchfurniture pieces to be viewed on their own, but rather as an element of her holistic interior design. Knoll only designed furniture when the existing pieces in the Knoll collection didn’t meet her needs. Almost half of the furniture pieces in the Knoll collection were her designs including tables, desks, chairs, sofas, benches and stools. She designed furniture not only to be functional, but also to designate the way she wanted the interior space to function as well as relating to the architecture of the space and the overall composition. This was inevitably part of her concept for ‘total design’ where she aspired to work in a broad range of design fields including architecture, manufacturing, interior design, textiles, graphics, advertising and presentation. The distinctive features of Florence Knoll’s furniture designs were the sleek silhouettes and geometries. This reflected her architectural training and interests. Her furniture was designed with the notion of transforming architecture into furniture, which she achieved by translating the structure and language of the modern building into a human-scaled object. An ideal example of this is her 2544 credenza, which was a marble topped, rectangular case with metal legs. Its structure was clearly influenced by the Mies’ Seagram Building and Corbusian columns. She mostly kept the upholstery colour palate in black, brown and beige to let the vibrant colours and rich textures in the interior spaces remain the focus (some pieces did come in bright red).
 
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Florence Knoll Bench