Knoll is one of my favorite mid-century modern furniture labels. Numerous iconic forms and designers contribute to the international appeal of the line. Designers like Eero Saarinen, Florence Knoll , Hans Wegner, Marcel Breuer, and Harry Bertoia created masterpieces under the Knoll design umbrella. Marcel Breuer, inspired by a bicycle, created the Wassily chair in 1925. This piece of geometric art consisting originally of black leather and tubular steel is still being produced today. Authentic Wassily chairs have a serial number and signature on the frame. The Knoll label was officially founded in 1938 and is located in East Greenville, PA. The home page states, “That good design is good business.” While sturdy and well-crafted; the pieces still exhibit a beauty that resides quietly with the form. Knoll pieces are part of major museum collections, with more than 40 pieces in the permanent collection at the MOMA in New York.
There are many resources on the Knoll website, including an easily searched product database. Flexible keyword and category searches yield thumbnail photo results. Clicking on the thumbnail provides production and design details as well as larger photos. There is also a product time line available. A section is also dedicated to the vast array of designers who partnered with Knoll over the decades.
A few weeks ago, Joe and I spent a morning stopping at garage sales that bore little fruit. On our way to breakfast we drove by a thrift store I had meant to stop by for several months. Within 2 minutes we found a stack of (4) teak frame arm chairs. Turing them over, the fabric was very high-end having large randomly placed blue and teal circles on a blue-grey background. The molded seats are graceful yet strong. We knew they were nice. Attached to the underside of one seat was a product label on it, with the words Knoll and 1981. Identification made easy. Everything was there that we needed to decide to purchase, except for price.
I found the store manager. She looked them over and seemed very slow to name a price. I pointed out that one of the chairs had a few dings on the crest rail. She volleyed back, “still they are very nice chairs.” I agreed and waited. Finally she gave the price, under $10 each. I immediately said SOLD.
Joe and I are keeping (2) chairs, which appeared to have originally been purchased by Southern Bell Phone company. I am selling the other two. However, in researching the chairs on the on-line database I couldn’t find the exact chairs. Digging a little deeper, I found that the early 80s were a tumultuous time for the company. Knoll had financial troubles and sold out to General Felt Inc. There were good and not so good years financially with General Felt. The early 80s were a downturn for the office furniture market segment. I have surmised that the company may not have had the man power and resources to document all their designs at the time and put that information in the current database. Whatever the story, you too would be pleased to add these to your collection.
I bought a Life Chair for my office about 5 years ago. It looks almost as new as the day I bought it. The chair is designed to last for life, with the ability to replace components that might wear or degrade. It is also made from recycled materials and qualifies for LEEDS credit. It is an ergonomic ecological package on wheels!
So if anyone reading this post, knows the name or designer of our chairs. Please drop us a line.