Florence Knoll Bassett is an American architect and furniture designer. In 1938, Hans Knoll founded his furniture company Knoll in New York. In 1943, Florence Schust (Knoll) convinced Hans she could help bring in business to his company even though in America's wartime economy by expanding into interior design by working with architects. With her architectural background and design flair, she succeeded. They married in 1946 and became full business
partner and together they founded Knoll Associates.
Florence felt architects should contribute their design ability to furniture as well. Some of these furniture designs would become design icons of the 20th century and have remained in the Knoll line for decades due to their timeless design. When Hans Knoll died in 1955, Florence Knoll took over operation of the company. Florence Knoll herself designed chairs, sofas, tables and casegoods during the 1950s, many of which remain in the Knoll line to this day.
Her American interpretation of minimalist, rationalist design theories is clearly evident in Knoll's storage pieces. She mixed woods and metals to great effect and added laminates as they became popular. Dressers and desks are all square in design but never lack for quality. Hanging cabinets have glass shelves, sliding doors and drop down fronts that can be used as bars.
In the 1950's Florence Knoll's work was often displayed at the Museum of Modern Art's "Good Design" exhibits. Although Knoll did a great deal of residential work, the International Style she worked in was specially in successful corporate offices.
Knoll's vision for the new office was clean and uncluttered, and the corporate boom of the 1960's provided the perfect opportunity for her to change the way people looked at work in their offices. Her open plan layouts created clean, uncluttered spaces a perfect venue for her furniture. Companies embraced this new way of organizing business space.
Her belief in "total design" – embracing architecture, manufacturing, interior design, textiles, graphics, advertising and presentation – and her application of design principles in solving space problems was what lead her to wining the prestigious National medal of arts award. Knoll remained with the company as the director of design until 1965 when she retired completely in 2002.