Remembering A Remarkable Design Pioneer | Florence Knoll Bassett: 1917-2019

Florence Knoll Bassett; Image Courtesy of Knoll


With deep admiration, ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME remembers modern design pioneer and artistic force, Florence Knoll Bassett. She transformed the look and feel of the traditional post-war American workplace from the dark and confined offices of the past to light and open floor plans. By introducing space and light along with minimalistic furnishing designs and her “total design” concept, she reimagined the attitude and atmosphere of the workplace and thereby, what could be achieved within.

As protégé of German-American architect Eliel Saarinen, Finnish architect and father of Eero Saarinen, she studied architecture at some of the most progressive design schools in the world. Her classmates included Charles and Ray Eames, Harry Bertoia and Eero Saarinen. At the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago (IIT), she studied under German-American architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the last director of the Bauhaus school whose principles would greatly influence her design vision.

Pursuing her career as an architect, she moved to New York City. In 1941 while working at Harrison and Abromovitz Architects, she met German-born furniture manufacturer, Hans Knoll, who was beginning to bring European Modernism to America. She went to work for Knoll and quickly created the Knoll Planning Unit, the design group that would ultimately revolutionize interior space-planning practices. Soon after, the two became business partners. In 1946 they married and the company became Knoll Associates.

The Bauhaus philosophy of simplicity and harmony between pure color, clean design and function infused Ms. Knoll Bassett’s groundbreaking “total design” concept, wherein all elements of the whole design are considered and seamlessly integrated — from architecture, space planning and manufacturing to interior design including furnishings, color, material and textiles. Eventually, she expanded the Knoll Associates furniture line to include the designs of former classmates and other foremost Modernist masters. Many of these pieces remain timeless today.

Please visit Knoll.com to learn more about one of our most important design icons, Florence Knoll Basset.

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ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME is seeker and storyteller of the sublime in living. It is a global guide to in-depth and varied views of beauty and shelter that stirs imagination; that delights and inspires homeowners as well as art and design doyens. Collaborating with emergent and eminent architects, artisans, designers, developers and tastemakers, ASPIRE creates captivating content that savors the subjects and transports with stunning imagery and clever, thought-provoking writing. Through lush and unique visuals and a fresh editorial lens, ASPIRE explores what is new and undiscovered in art, interiors, design, culture, real estate, travel and more. ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME is an international narrative and resource for all seeking the sublime.