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Florence Knoll Bassett, a design pioneer and leader of furniture manufacturer Knoll, died on Jan. 25 in Coral Gables, Florida. She was 101 years old.

In 1941, aiming to pursue work in architecture, Knoll Bassett moved to New York and met Hans Knoll. Hans Knoll was the third generation of a Stuttgart-based furniture manufacturing family who had come to the U.S. a few years earlier, and he was beginning to bring European Modernism to a new audience. Seeking to build business for a new chair, he called on the design firm where his future wife and partner happened to be working. Before long, the two were business partners, and in 1946 the pair married and renamed the company Knoll Associates.

Knoll Bassett established the Knoll Planning Unit. She also broadened the company’s existing array of furniture offerings to include the work of some of her Cranbrook colleagues, as well as the prominent Modernist figures who had influenced her education and shared her critical eye. Many of these pieces became icons of the post-war period’s corporate interiors.

In 2002, Knoll Bassett was awarded the National Medal of the Arts, the highest honor for achievement in the field presented annually by the U.S. President. She was also the first woman to receive the Gold Medal for Industrial Design from the American Institute of Architects in 1961.

Photo: Courtesy of Knoll Inc.


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