Knoll's Dorothy Cosonas: Fashion-Forward Textile Design

Those pink interiors of the 1950s can be traced—not to a prescient interior designer—but the fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli, who introduced a war-weary world to a hue she dubbed "shocking pink" in 1947. Point is: fashion has had a profound influence on interiors, although the trickle down from the catwalk to the couch has been reduced from years to the instantaneousness of the virtual world.

Modern textile designer Dorothy Cosonas, creative director of Knoll

As creative director of Knoll since 2005, Cosonas is constantly looking to fashion because of its profound influence on interior design. Learn how she has collaborated with major fashion houses to take her fabrics to the next level. 

modern navy and grey fabrics by Knoll
Knoll collaborated with fashion house Proenza Schouler on their second collection of fabrics for Knoll Luxe, a line created with high-end residential, executive office, and hospitality projects in mind.
For her debut collection for KnollTextiles, Dorothy Cosonas, creative director since 2005, looked to the nubby textures of classic Chanel suiting. Since then, she has collaborated with the fashion houses Proenza Schouler and Rodarte on a new high-end line she created for the residential customer, Knoll Luxe.

Even though she has myriad muses, Cosonas often looks to fashion, recognizing its profound influence on interior design. “Fashion designers still have the leading edge when it comes to making a statement about color and texture and pattern,” she says. “They’re still the design leaders in this world.”

modern grey, blue, and gold pillows by Knoll
The fabrics yielded from the Proenza Schouler collaboration are based off of existing patterns but were translated to materials that will handle the rigorous requirements of interior use.
By nodding to such innovators, Cosonas is carrying on a company tradition. Frustrated by the patterns available in the marketplace, founder Florence Knoll adapted classic patterns from men’s suiting fabric to complement Knoll Inc.’s sleek office furniture. Over the years, Knoll has also worked with fashion innovators like Jhane Barnes and Steven Sprouse.

At Knoll, Cosonas’s fashion-forward outlook has helped inject a new vitality into the firm, which, back in the mid-century, was the first to address the fabric needs of the contemporary office. In addition to designing textiles herself, Cosonas oversees some six collections a year.

Her talent lies in an ability to weave together a fashion-forward sense of color, texture and pattern using the latest technologies. Prior to Knoll, Cosonas was design director at Unika Vaev, and her many award-winning textiles were included in a retrospective on women in design at Bard Graduate Center.

modern textiles by Knoll
The fabric family's signature is Mepal (shown here), a large-scale silk-and-damask textile design.
modern textiles by Knoll
The inspiration for Canaan (shown here) is a vest from Proenza Schouler's 2007 line.
Recognizing her influence, the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum has selected seven fabrics from KnollTextiles for its permanent collection that have been created by Cosonas or under her direction.

That Cosonas would end up in textiles seems like a destiny fulfilled. She earned a fine art degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology, but ended up with an additional one in textile design at the urging of her father, who wanted her to do something more practical. Growing up, her carefully assembled outfits included the right shoes and coordinated socks. “So,” she says, “moving into textiles—studying textile surface design and weaving and color theory and understanding scale and pattern—was really an extension of that.”

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