Monday, April 2, 2012


Welcome to a new week of design muse.  This week I want to concentrate on designers.  
In our study of art and design, B. and I have made a discovery...  There are designers who ask permission from the  market place, think interior designers, most contemporary furniture designers and commercial artists, and those who don't ask permission, think artists and designers who are expressing themselves through their art without regard to the consumer or viewer.  I don't mean this as a judgement, just an observation.  Naturally, interior designers must ask permission, for they usually have clients who need to be satisfied and often have their own ideas which need to be considered.   Commercial artists and in-house furniture designers are clearly working for someone else and must do as told.

This week I would like to explore the work of designers who ask permission and those who don't...beginning with Florence Knoll of Knoll International.   
 Born in 1917, Florence Schust was an architect (she studied under Mies van der Rohe), furniture designer and interior designer.
After marrying Hans Knoll, she together with Hans (who was a furniture designer) formed Knoll International, which is today the third largest manufacturer of office furniture.  Florence convinced Hans of the need to expand into interior design and to consider the architecture of  space in relation to the design and placement of furniture.
After Hans dies in a car accident, Florence took over the operation of Knoll International for many years, taking it from Hans's original Scandanavian aesthetic to a broader international style.
Florence later married Harry Bassett, and was then known as Florence Knoll Bassett.
Florence was known for a minimilist aesthetic, using woods, metals and eventually laminates.       Though Knoll International did work with residential clients, the clean modern look of KI was especially well suited for the corporate world.       

 Almost half of the furniture pieces in the Knoll collection were designed by Florence, who  worked in a vibrant color scheme of primary colors with black and white.
 Florence worked with a tool she referred to as a "paste-up", which was a small plan of the space she was designing complete with fabric swatches, wood chips and finishes, in order to visually present details to the client.
Obviously this is what most of us refer to as a "story board" today.
 Florence believed in the concept of "total design", which was a holistic approach including architecture, marketing, interior design, textiles, graphics, advertising and presentation.  This approach revolutionised  the way offices and work spaces were designed.
 In 2002 Florence Knoll Bassett was awarded the National medal of Arts.
Because she represented Knoll International and worked largely with corporate clients, I would place FKB in the category of a designer who asked permission.  Clearly this does not mean that her work was not unique or influential, just that she had clients whose needs came before her need to express herself through her art.

Does the concept of asking permission/not asking permission seen relevant to you?  If you are a designer or artist, which type are you?
Braxton and I aim to be in the later category, but then I suppose most artist/designers do.

Random:   When our girls were small, Braxton and I wanted to give them roots and wings.  When they went to Italy to study art for a year, I drew them a rather silly picture of a large tree with wings and deep roots.
Now that the girls are adults, B. and I have decided to give ourselves the same gift we gave to them.  Roots, not of the childhood variety, but the deep roots of a long and successful marriage, and the wings needed to follow our hearts desire to soar.
When we went hiking in the mountains this past weekend, I took this photo of two trees...branches reaching skyward, shadows which look like deep

Have a beautiful day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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