“I needed a piece of furniture. It was not there so I created it” – Florence Knoll
The mother of modernism, Florence Knoll is our Female Design Icon for 2019. While she sadly passed away earlier this year, her legacy is one of eternal style. Born in 1917 amid the echoes of war, she demonstrated a creative eye from an early age, enrolling in the Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1934. In her words, she didn’t just decorate a space, she created it, taking a holistic approach to interiors that refused to centre solely on one object or aspect. In 1943, she married Hans Knoll and together they founded the infamous Knoll furniture brand. Modern always, Knoll is the closest thing the industry has to immortality and is revered for its striking yet timeless designs.
Colour and modernity were her mediums, and she spoke through them often in designs like the Florence Knoll Sofa and Coffee Table. Knoll also oversaw the production of some of the world’s most recognisable objects through her careful leadership and management. Like all great leaders, she planted seeds of inspiration among her colleagues, encouraging designers like Eero Saarinen to create the Womb Chair and Sofa through a variety of specific briefs.
However, Florence Knoll was much more than just the sum of her achievements. She was a visionary in a time blinded by prejudice, a woman who used her light to help set others on fire, and one of the reasons that women are so integral to contemporary design today.