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Florence Knoll

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Florence Knoll Bassett (born in Michigan in 1917 as Florence Schust) is an accomplished furniture designer and trained architect but is best known for bringing modernism to America through the designers she has promoted at Knoll, the company she formed in 1946 the year she married her late husband, Hans Knoll. Nicknamed “Shu”, Knoll studied architecture at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, where she met Eero Saarinen, and later at the architectural Association in London and the Armour Institute at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. She worked under the tutelage of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in the Windy City before getting guidance from Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer in Boston. In New York, she worked with Wallace K. Harrison, where she met Hans in 1941. The two hit it off and founded Knoll Associates, where Knoll worked with many of the modern masters—Saarinen, Mies, Harry Bertoia, Isamu Noguchi, Anni Albers—to put their designs back into production (like Saarinen’s Womb chair and Mies’s Barcelona chair and Dessau table) and help them develop new ones (like Bertoia’s wire furniture). Knoll also revolutionized interior design, with her “total design” approach that focused on embracing everything from the architecture to furniture to graphics to fabrics of a space, and worked on projects with firms like Skidmore Owings and Merrill. In 2002, she was awarded the National Endowment for the Arts’ National Medal of Arts for her contributions to architecture and design.

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Maple Desk

Florence Knoll designed this three-drawer piece in 1949—it was one of her earlier mass-produced creations. It features a single pedestal and tapering legs. It has been restored, and it's in excellent condition.

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