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Florence Knoll Bassett, an icon of modernism, dies at 101

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The woman behind Knoll leaves a large legacy of brilliant design

Portrait of American architect and furniture designer Florence Knoll Bassett as she sits on the edge of a table with a book of fabric swatches in front of her, 1961.
Portrait of American architect and furniture designer Florence Knoll Bassett, 1961.
The LIFE Images Collection/Getty

Florence Knoll Bassett, the woman behind the modern office, died at the age of 101 last Friday, as the New York Times first reported. Along with her husband Hans Knoll, she built Knoll International into one of the biggest and most influential design companies in history.

Knoll, born Florence Schust in 1917, was steeped in design from a young age. After both of her parents died during her childhood, she was taken in by Loja and Eliel Saarinen, the parents of the influential Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen. Knoll attended the famous Cranbrook Academy of Art, where Eliel Saarinen was the president, and sharpened her natural eye for architecture and furniture design. She also studied under Mies van der Rohe, who would later work with Knoll to bring his furniture designs to a wider audience.

In 1946, she married the furniture designer Hans Knoll and became a partner at Knoll International. Florence Knoll was the creative lead in the company, where she led the interior design of major office headquarters including CBS and H. J. Heinz.

She was responsible for establishing Knoll’s recognizable brand of modernism both through her own designs and by bringing some of the most influential 20th-century designers into the Knoll fold, including Mies, Eero Saarinen, Marcel Breuer, and Harry Bertoia.

An installation called “Florence Knoll Bassett: Defining Modern” was shown in a contemporary design gallery at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2004.
An installation called “Florence Knoll Bassett: Defining Modern” was shown in a contemporary design gallery at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2004.
AP

Knoll’s legacy as the matriarch of modernism is well documented, and rightfully so. Her influence lives on in the furniture she designed, the women she inspired to become designers, and of course, in every Barcelona Chair found in office lobbies across the world.

Below, check out some tributes to the late design icon pouring in from around the web.

Via: New York Times