1954 Knoll Catalog designed by Herbert Matter. I love the Egyptian style “K” with the giant square serifs. The geometric letter form mirrors the International building style of the period.

Recently I was watching a documentary on Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House in Illinois. What an amazing place and story. After becoming romantically attached with Dr. Edith Farnsworth, the two became bitter courtroom enemies after runaway construction costs poisoned their romance. The film reminded me of Mies and his productive relationship with Florence and Hans Knoll and all the amazing furniture the Knolls made possible after WW II.

The new economic power of the USA post WW II created a demand for new housing, offices and naturally furniture to furnish them with – out with the old, in with the NEW. Lead by innovative firms Knoll Associates and Herman Miller (with designers George Nelson and Charles and Ray Eames), they produced groundbreaking furniture design. New furniture materials featured steel, glass, bent plywood and vinyl. Knoll Associates blossomed. The dynamic team of Florence and Hans Knoll collaborated with a group of amazing architects and designers including Mies, George Nakashima, Eero Saarinen, Harry Bertoia, Pierre Jeanneret and of course, Florence Knoll. In the 1950’s architects Philip Johnson and Richard Neutra used the furniture in their innovative modernist buildings.

They are still relevant today. Architects Richard Meier, Shelton Mindel and up and coming firms Axis Mundi and Robinson + Grisaru find the simple furniture forms reflect what modernism is still about – modern thought and a revolt against conservative values.

1954 Knoll Catalog shows Philip Johnson’s widely admired New Canaan, CT glass house featuring Mies furniture

1954 Knoll Catalog featuring Pierre Jeanneret (Le Corbusier’s cousin and collaborator) chairs and Florence Knoll furniture