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Florence Schust Knoll (American, b.1917)


Also known as:  Florence Knoll

The Michigan-born Florence Schust Knoll was orphaned at the age of 12, her beneficiary sent her to Kingswood in Bloomfield Hills, a part of the Cranbrook Foundation. It was almost immediately evident that Knoll was to be a designer, as she took a keen interest in the buildings on the Cranbrook campus. The school’s president and famous architect, Eliel Saarinen, took her under his wing and brought her into his family. Under Saarinen’s wing, he took Knoll around Europe on holidays and to find the right environment for her to learn. The Architectural Association in London was the chosen school, but with the outbreak of WWII, Knoll finished her education at the Illinois Institute of Technology under Mies van der Rohe. She met furniture manufacturer Hans Knoll after graduation, and the couple married in 1946, renaming the company Knoll Associates. Knoll added her sense of modern ease to the manufacture’s repertoire and invited Bertoia, Mies van der Rohe, Eero Saarinien, Marcel Breuer and other designers to manufacture and design within the world of Knoll Associates. Florence marries Harry Hood Bassett after Hans Knoll suddenly dies in a car crash. A year after remarrying Knoll sells the company in 1959, but remains active within the office after selling and continues designing for private clients.

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