BOOK REVIEW: Knoll – A Modernist Universe

While I regularly write about companies that use Knoll products, I must admit that I was woefully ignorant to the importance and gravitas that Knoll possesses in the history of American furniture production prior to reading Brian Lutz’s, Knoll: A Modernist Universe.

The book is divided into a written history of the company and a chronological history of the company’s designs. Though the written history is mainly text, it also features a nice collection of drawings, photos, and documentation. The design history is of course, mainly photos, which small write-ups for each. As far as readability is concerned, I breezed through it fairly quickly, though I have dual passions in history and office design, which might have assisted.

Given that I am interested in the office design side of things, the Knoll Planning Unit caught my fancy. The Planning Unit was established early in Knoll’s history, and due to its top-notch work, created a huge market for Knoll products. Throughout its time, the planning unit would use Knoll products in their designs, and either design pieces or acquire others’ designs to bolster weak spots in their portfolio found through their office design projects.

Rather than just making furniture for furniture’s sake, Knoll invented wonderfully designed furniture that served a purpose in a real space. And if I had any takeaways from this book, beyond just reading some interesting history it would be that great companies like Knoll push the boundaries of acceptable and create need for products that consumers didn’t know they wanted or needed before.

And because of their foresight and eye for great design we are seeing a resurgence of older Knoll products because great design just doesn’t go out of style.

You can pick up the book on Amazon.