Knoll Chairs

Written by Nicholas Kamuda
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In the 1940s and `50s, Knoll chairs were practically synonymous with modern design and forward-thinking International aesthetic. Knoll, from the beginning a furniture company with its eye on modern design, was co-founded by a husband and wife team that consisted of a fan of the Bauhaus (Knoll, from Stuggart) and a student of Eero Saarinen and Mies van der Rohe (Florence Schust). Together, they commissioned designs from a number of young designers, including Albini and Bertoia.

A number of these designers contributed to the increasingly extensive catalog of Knoll chairs. Bertoia produced barstools, children's chairs, and side chairs. Bertoia was given free reign by Knoll and Schust, a freedom that allowed him to explore furniture as sculpture as well as functional objects.

The Bauhaus and Knoll Chairs

Florence Schust's connections with the Bauhaus designers, including Gropius, Breuer, and Mies van der Rohe allowed her to approach and successfully attain the rights to many of their classic early 20th century furniture designs. In the middle of the 1900s, Knoll began production on Breuer's Wassily chair and a number of Mies van der Rohe's early chairs. They took care to furnish the chairs to the exact same specifications as the original designs.

One of the most important additions to the Knoll line was Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona line. The entire collection, originally designed for use only in the 1929 Barcelona Pavilion, was resurrected and mass-produced by Knoll. Other Mies van der Rohe designs that were eventually produced as Knoll chairs include the Brno chair and the Tugendhat chair.

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