It’s come full circle for interior design alumnae Kayleigh Fraser ‘11 M’12 and Heather Brunini ‘06. After learning of the iconic brand Knoll, during their studies at Endicott, both Fraser and Brunini found full-time employment as sales representatives within the brand’s Office Division in Boston, and now their employer is bringing them back to their alma mater for the exhibit Eight Decades of Design at Knoll.
The exhibit, currently on display through February 6, 2019, takes a close look at Florence Knoll, a female pioneer of design who rose to be a driving influence on American modernism, and the designers who shaped Knoll’s legacy. Knoll is a constellation of design-driven brands that work together to create inspired modern interiors – and if you ask any interior design student at Endicott if they are familiar with the brand, the answer will be ‘yes.’ Because it is such a forward-thinking brand, Knoll has been integrated into the College’s interior design curriculum at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Students in the Residential Design Studio, Corporate Design Studio, and Hospitality Design Studio courses learn about Knoll when looking at different manufacturers, textiles, and furniture pieces.
Director of Interior Architecture Programs, Van Loan School, Myoung Joo Chun, says that creating an exhibition that brings Knoll’s history to life for students to experience the designed product in spacial context is a natural fit. “Knoll is a leader in furniture and has eight decades of innovative history of design.” Chun says that the exhibit is not just applicable to interior architecture students, but that it’s overarching to the entire School of Visual and Performing Arts and beyond to the other schools on campus. “The exhibition includes narrative infographics, photography of iconic designers, vintage furniture posters, iconic furniture pieces, and the latest products, along with the design process sketches, drawings, and prototype models. This exhibit will ideally help students find their own inspiration that they can bring to the classroom.”
Fraser says that Eight Decades of Design at Knoll can open students’ eyes to all of the different facets within interior design that maybe they hadn’t thought about before. “Perhaps students will develop a newfound interest in textile construction and stories behind their design. Maybe they will love the idea of furniture – whether it’s designing it or selling it. There are a lot of different paths you can take as an interior designer – the exhibit offers many perspectives.”
Fraser herself is no stranger to the different areas that interior design offers and credits Endicott’s internship program for helping her pave her career path. Her semester-long internship with residential design firm Carpenter & MacNeille in Essex, Mass. turned into full-time employment for nearly four years. “Internships give you the opportunity to try something that maybe you wouldn’t have otherwise tried. Maybe you like it, maybe you don’t, but it helps you figure that out.” After exploring residential design, Fraser decided to pursue workplace design, which led her to Knoll, a brand that focuses on the intersection of how we work and live.
Within Knoll’s Boston dealer partner Office Resources Inc., there are four Endicott Alumni. “Knoll is such a relevant furniture manufacturer and it’s a dream to be able to work for them, because they are the best of the best” says Brunini. In addition to working together internally, Brunini and Fraser say that they regularly work with alumni on the external design side as well. Brunini says that when she comes across an Endicott graduate in the field, they immediately feel like family and she’s constantly impressed with the skillset that they bring to the table.
Brunini says that Eight Decades of Design at Knoll is inspiring and a great opportunity to learn about designers who were outside of the interior design field and created these iconic and new pieces for Knoll.
A presentation, “Florence Knoll: Defining Modern” with Senior Vice President, Communications at Knoll, David Bright, will be held on Wednesday, November 7, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. in the Rose Performance Hall with a reception to follow. This event is free and open to the public. Eight Decades of Design at Knoll is on display in the Heftler Visiting Artist Gallery at the Walter J. Manninen Center for the Arts until February 6, 2019.