Knoll's Dorothy Cosonas: Fashion-Forward Textile Design
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."
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.
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."
Now based in the San Francsico Bay Area, Joanne Furio is a veteran print journalist who segued into design over a decade ago. In addition to writing for Dwell, she contributes to San Francisco and the Believer.