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.
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.”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.
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.”