(May 24, 1917)
From sofas to chairs and credenzas, often described as a scheme of class and simplicity, her attention to detail and modern aesthetic, made of her pieces to be as outstanding as those created by her colleagues.
Born in Saginaw, Michigan, Knoll received education at a boarding school for girls. While she was studying, she showed interest in architecture. Eliel Saarinen, Finnish designer and co-founder of the institution Knoll was attending, saw her talent and often invited her to spend summers with his family across Europe. She got very close to the family, especially to their son Eero.
Knoll went to the Cranbrook Academy of Art having Eliel Saarinen as a teacher. This fact opened her path to opportunities like studying at acclaimed institutions and being part of the Architectural Association in London. Her mentors include significant and iconic designers like Marcel Breuer, Walter Gropius, and Mies van der Rohe. Knoll moved to New York in 1941 where she met Hans Knoll, owner of Knoll manufacturing company, whom she married in 1946. Her prodigious skills helped the company emerge and have worldwide success. Pieces from different designers including Eero Saarinen, Mies van der Rohe, and Harry Bertoia, are still being produced at the Knoll and Associates company.
Knoll eventually started creating pieces to add them to the catalog of the company and organized the space and created the environment for offices or businesses and corporations like IBM and CBS. After her husband’s death in 1955, Knoll took control over the company for five years before resigning the presidency to focus merely on the development and directing design. She retired in 1965.
Knoll was destined to be one of the few women who were able to shine on a men-lead industry during the Danish Modern and mid-20th Century period and is recognized as one of the most cherished and admired entrepreneurs, architects, and designers of her time.