We were saddened to hear over the weekend the news that Florence Knoll Bassett passed away at her Coral Gables home in the US. She was 101. Florence was a world-renowned architect and designer, and a pioneer of American office design.
Florence met her husband Hans in New York in 1941 and helped him to establish their revolutionary Knoll Planning Unit. Where Hans’ skills lay in business acumen and salesmanship, Florence brought her unique design skills, creative visions and a network of contacts.
Credited with being the defining force in creating the standard for the modern corporate interiors of post-war America, she revolutionised the world of post-war office interiors.
Florence and the Planning Unit were responsible for the interiors of some of America’s largest corporations, including IBM, GM and CBS. She saw herself as more than “just an office designer”, rather as a creative force. Showing wisdom beyond her time, The Planning Unit assessed each client’s individual requirements using meticulous research and planning. This included as standard rigorously defining patterns of use and understanding company culture before presenting a comprehensive design which was informed by the principles of modernism and beautifully executed in signature Knoll style.
The first woman recipient of the Gold Medal for Industrial Design from AIA in 1961, she went on to receive the highest award for artistic excellence in America, the National Medal of Arts, in 2003. Our thoughts go out to her family and friends, and as an office fit-out, design and furniture company, we are grateful for the legacy that Florence has left us all.
“She had that ability, to critique [something], to tear it apart and put it back together. She was something else.” Bob Longwell
“That revolution in the office took place 20 years ago and Florence Knoll, the woman who led it, is today the single most powerful figure in the field of modern design. To be accepted by Knoll is to have it made.” New York Times, 1964
“The Planning Unit existed because of my background in architecture. It was the very first furniture company [that] ever had a planning department.” Florence Knoll Bassett