Tag Archives: design history

Florence Knoll Bassett, Designer of the Modern American Office, Dies


Florence Knoll Bassett in 1961. For 20 years she was instrumental in building Knoll Associates into the largest and most prestigious high-end design firm of its kind.CreditCreditRay Fisher/The LIFE Images Collection, via Getty Images


Florence Knoll Bassett, a pioneering designer and entrepreneur who created the modern look and feel of America’s postwar corporate office with sleek furniture, artistic textiles and an uncluttered, free-flowing workplace environment, died on Friday in Coral Cables, Fla. She was 101.

Her death was announced by David E. Bright, a spokesman for Knoll Inc., the company she and her husband Hans Knoll ran for many years.

To connoisseurs of Modernism, the mid-20th-century designs of Florence Knoll, as she was known, were — and still are — the essence of the genre’s clean, functional forms. Transcending design fads, they are still influential, still contemporary, still common in offices, homes and public spaces, still found in dealers’ showrooms and represented in museum collections.

Ms. Knoll learned her art at the side of Modernist masters. She was a protégé of the German-American architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Eliel Saarinen, the Finnish architect and teacher and the father of the architect Eero Saarinen. And she worked with the renowned Bauhaus architects Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer. Throughout her career, influenced by the German Bauhaus school of design, she promoted the Modernist merger of architecture, art and utility in her furnishings and interiors, especially — although not exclusively — for offices.

Continue reading

“Twentieth-Century Design and the Immigrant Professional in the Americas”

Seeking contributors for a session, “Twentieth-Century Design and the Immigrant Professional in the Americas” at the College Art Association annual meeting from February 13-16, 2019 in New York City.

Please submit a 300-500 word abstract to mcguirel at hawaii.edu by the deadline of August 6th.

Session abstract:
Although the significant contributions of European designers who fled Nazi Europe for North and Latin America have been long recognized by historians, the broader situation of immigrant professionals – from across the globe – in twentieth-century design history remains an area ripe for scholarly examination.

This session seeks to complicate and enrich our understanding of the roles of immigrant commercial, industrial, and decorative designers in the Americas. As newcomers either by choice or by force, immigrant professionals faced singular challenges as they sought to adapt to their adopted lands.

To what degrees did the economic, ethnic, and professional difficulties they encountered shape the products of American design, design practice, and design culture?

To these ends, papers might examine not only immigrants’ professional strategies and successes but also their challenges and failures.

How did social, economic, and personal hardships, such as racism, discrimination, and cultural politics affect their professional labors?

Did the ideas and methodologies that they brought with them sometimes fail to translate in their new professional, cultural, and aesthetic spheres, and if so, what can these reveal about the history of twentieth-century American design?

Alternatively, how have some immigrant designers or immigrant groups proposed concepts that fundamentally challenged and altered the status quo?

From a historiographic perspective, how have dominant histories of design hindered a more nuanced history of the American immigrant experience?

Papers that examine lesser-known practitioners are particularly welcome, as are papers that interrogate the works of canonical designers from a perspective that highlights their status as immigrants.

The hidden women in architecture and design

>>At the New Yorker Magazine: “The hidden women…”

Article from Alexandra Lange – architecture critic for Curbed.


Call for book – Design and Eastern Arab Countries: Its Past, Present & Future

The book title:
Design and Eastern Arab Countries: Its Past, Present & Future
The aim of this book is to provide a clear overview of the region that
stimulates debate, gives direction to the development of design education, and
provides an agenda that would strategically inform practitioners.

Respondents to the Expression of Interest are invited to propose a topic for a
5,000-word essay in one of the three parts of the book.

Part 1. Looking back on the history of design: tradition, colonialism and
The topics invited would all critically reflect upon the relation between the
place of design and the pre-modern, modern and contemporary history of the

Part 2. An evaluation of ‘the now’: what is the present picture of design
practices and education in the region? This question is posed against the
backdrop of conflict, political instability, economic circumstances, and
socio-cultural problems and possibilities.

Part 3. Futuring the Region: How can design education, knowledge and practices
contribute to the repair and transformation of the region so that it is better
able to meet its challenges and constitute a viable and equitable future for
all the societies of the region.

Please send a one-page Expression of Interest (12pt double-spaced) with the
following information:
•       The chapter title and abstract
•       Your name and position
•       Work address
•       The email address:
•       And a short Bio (150) word

Please, send your contribution by Monday 30th/April/2018
To: qassim.saad at gmail.com

At this stage, we would like to receive EOI’s with chapters written either in
English or Arabic.

Dr Qassim Saad
PhD in Industrial Design
Coordinator of Product, Furniture, and Jewellery Design
School of Design and the Built Environment