David E. Bright, spokesman for Knoll Inc., announced her passing. Knoll Bassett and her husband Hans Knoll ran the company for many years together, beginning in the 1940s. She had a large hand in the creative vision of Knoll, started the Knoll Planning Unit, and directed the design of the company’s iconic furniture, textiles, and graphics.
Knoll Bassett studied under Mies van der Rohe at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, and collaborated with Isamu Noguchi and Alexander Girard, among others, during a pivotal time in the development of American Modern design.
“We’re like art dealers,” Knoll Bassett said of discovering new designers for Knoll. “We want fresh, original work. And we want it from anyone who can produce it.”
In 1961, Knoll Bassett became the first woman recipient of the Gold Medal for Industrial Design from AIA. In 2003, she received the highest award for artistic excellence in America, the National Medal of Arts.
"Florence Knoll Bassett-
Shu is famous for her philosophy of “total design,” and as the director of the Knoll Planning Unit she revolutionized interior space planning. Her approach of embracing everything about a space – architecture, interior design, graphics, textiles and manufacturing – was not the standard midcentury practice in space planning, but it caught on and continues to be the standard today. Shu was also a furniture designer, as well as a great eye for talent. It was under her leadership that many of the modern masters created collections for Knoll. These legacies include Eero Saarinen’s Tulip™ chairs and pedestal tables, Isamu Noguchi’s coffee table and Harry Bertoia’s wire furniture.In 2002, Florence Knoll Bassett was accorded the National Endowment for the Arts’ prestigious National Medal of Arts.