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Eight Decades of Design at Knoll

Image shows a line of chairs and images as part of the exhibit on Knoll furniture and design
Endicott College is pleased to present 'Eight Decades of Design', an exhibit highlighting the renowned furniture and design company, Knoll, Inc. Through February 6, 2019 with reception on November 7, 2018.

Endicott College is pleased to present Eight Decades of Design, an exhibit highlighting the renowned furniture and design company, Knoll, Inc. Given that Endicott’s art school is committed to instilling in our students historical and aesthetic awareness, perceptual and conceptual abilities, and technical skills, this exhibit embodies the essence of our mission. This exhibition is a partnership between Endicott and Knoll, where alumni from the undergraduate and graduate programs in Interior Architecture are employed. Many of Endicott’s Interior Design students have had successful internships at Knoll.


Eight Decades of Design at Knoll highlights the works of collaboration between Knoll and designers of creative experimental spirit which formed the innovative history of Knoll.  A visual historical timeline, Eight Decades of Design contains Knoll furniture, fabric, classic posters, design process drawings, prototype models, and a short video telling the story of Knoll.


Florence Knoll, a female pioneer of design, rose to be a driving influence on American modernism. From a young age, Florence developed an interest in architecture and was encouraged to pursue the practice by Eliel Saarinen (father of Eero Saarinen). At the Cranbrook Academy of Art, the beginning of her years of serious design training, she met Harry Bertoia and Eero Saarinen – both of whom would later design iconic pieces for Florence. She continued her studies at what is now the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago where she met many of the leading architects of the time, including Alvar Aalto, Marcel Breuer, Walter Gropius and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, some of which would come to figure prominently in her future work at Knoll. Her fundamental relationships with both master designers and young talent shaped the way we live and work.


Three years after joining the nascent furniture company, Knoll Associates, in 1943, Florence Knoll established the Knoll Planning Unit, an interior design division of the furniture company that set the standard for the mid-century modern interior. Her meticulous methods of assessing a client’s needs and patterns of use were clear in her sketches, annotations and “paste-ups” – a unique visual planning technique that featured folding walls, drawings of furniture and fabric samples of the upholstery. The Planning Unit, a pivotal point in Knoll’s legacy, marked the need for total design, tying the knot between product and spatial planning within the workplace.


In 1947, Florence Knoll launched a textile program to fill another gap she perceived in the market for contract furniture upholstery. This would later become Knoll Textiles. Her use of small fabric swatches—the simple but effective practice of stapling fabric samples to pieces of cardboard—in client presentations led her to develop a tagged sample and display system that eventually became an industry standard.


From the market gaps she aimed to fill to the prestigious designers she had on call, Florence Knoll greatly expanded the company, changing the post-war corporate landscape of the 20th century. As the brand celebrates its 80th anniversary, discover Knoll through the designers who shaped its legacy and the innovations that persist today. 


Please join us on Wednesday, November 7 at 5:00 p.m. as welcome our keynote speaker David E. Bright, Senior Vice President, Communications at Knoll, His presentation will be based on Florence Knoll: Defining Modern. A light reception will follow. The exhibition, gallery talk, and reception are free and open to the public.


If you have any questions regarding Eight Decades of Design at Knoll, or would like to schedule a group gallery visit, please contact Kathleen Moore at 978-232-2655 or


Eight Decades of Design at Knoll

Thursday, October 18, 2018 – Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Heftler Visiting Artist Gallery, Walter J. Manninen Center for the Arts at Endicott College

376 Hale Street

Beverly, MA  01915


Presentation and Reception

Wednesday, November 7, 2018 at 5:00 p.m.

Florence Knoll: Defining Modern

Presented by David E. Bright, Senior Vice President, Communications at Knoll


Free and open to the public. 

This exhibition is sponsored by Endicott College with support from Knoll


Gallery Hours: 

Monday – Thursday: 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Friday:  9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday:  2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Closed on November 21 – 25, December 22 – January 2 and January 21.

No weekend or evening hours in January.