Florence Knoll (born May 24, 1917)
Florence Knoll is an American architect and furniture designer who studied directly under Mies van der Rohe, Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer amongst others. Florence and her husband Hans Knoll would build their company, Knoll and take it to the forefront of modern design – a position it has maintained internationally for decades.
Born Florence Schust in Saginaw, Michigan, she graduated from the Kingswood School before studying at the Cranbrook Academy of Art. Knoll also received a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Armour Institute and in 1941 Florence moved to New York where she met Hans Knoll who was establishing his furniture company.
With Florence’s design skills and Hans’ business acumen, they grew the company into an internationally recognised brand. The two would be married in 1946. Florence was well networked with key players in the modern movement. She was able to solicit contributions from her friends Eero Saarinen, Harry Bertoia, and Mies van der Rohe. After the tragic death of Hans Knoll in 1955, Florence Knoll led the company as president.
In 1960 she resigned the presidency to focus on directing design, and in 1965, Florence retired from the company. Her contributions to Knoll, and to American modernism, places her as a 20th century industry pioneer.