Contemporary Furniture and Textiles

The cover of Contemporary Furniture and Textiles is bold, with contrasting colors, pattern, repetition, and angular lines and shapes. The cover is shiny giving it an appealing appearance that is modern and chic for its time. The background color is a silver/grey with a red K in the center that stands out visually, drawing the viewer’s eye to it. The K is centered in the middle of the page, but has straight lines and is superimposed over the repeating word KNOLL. The word Knoll in black repeats over the entire cover. The typography is new, defining, and simple yet intricate. This typography has a clean, contemporary aesthetic. The book itself is relatively large and rectangular with long pages that draw the viewer’s eye, allowing pictures and text on each page be laid out accordingly (figure 1). The pages of the book are thin and slick, but easy to grasp and flip. Each page tells a different story yet everything flows nicely together. I was initially impressed with the clean and contemporary impression of the catalog. As I looked through it the simple but thorough organization makes the reader feel comfortable understanding the content of the catalog. One of my favorite pages was a display of fabrics in triangle form that were connected to display the uniformity between the fabrics, but it also highlights their differences (figure 2). There is both black and white and color integrated in the book. Each section is introduced with a bold color choice on the entire page and a simple word in black introducing the topic. The typography displayed both on the cover and within the catalog is crisp and clean, fitting well with the contemporary designs featured. While there is text on some pages, the majority of the catalog is images and design blueprints, therefore the reader is not overwhelmed with text. The pages highlighting the furniture show a blueprint rendering of the furniture design, in a bold primary color with black and white photographs of the specific piece, and then a larger picture of the environment the piece was placed in. This shows the furniture from conceptualization to practical use. As a result, it allows the viewer to better understand the piece and have an appreciation for it, to feel a connection with it.

(Figure 1) Photo taken by: myself (Caroline Pinkelton)


(Figure 2) Photo taken by: Me (Caroline Pinkelton)

I have a passion for interior design and I was extremely excited to open up a book that I was initially drawn to just because of its cover. To think of my surprise when I opened it and began to flip through the pages and realized that it was an interior design catalog. To read about designs that were revolutionary for their time but still used and admired today is inspiring and enlightening. The book illustrates a collaboration between architect and the furniture and textile designer. These professionals address daily living needs and join together to create a solution. “They are each expressions of the same search for a harmonious balance between usefulness and beauty” (Contemporary Furniture and Textiles). Florence Knoll studied the space and the needs of the environment extensively before designing the furniture for the room. This approach allowed her to thoroughly understand what was needed in the function and usability of what she was creating. Innovative scientific techniques were used in the making of the furniture and this allowed for a reduced cost in production which could easily be used in a variety of large scale environments, such as a college dormitory. “The furniture and textiles pictured in the five sections of this catalog present visual evidence of the timelessness of sound design where the more than routine needs of living define the character of this growing modern tradition. “(Contemporary Furniture and Textiles)


Knoll Associates were inspired by the design and philosophy of the Bauhaus. Much of Florence Knoll’s designs and inspirations can be associated with the Bauhaus as well as the Cranbrook Academy of Art. The Bauhaus and Cranbrook Academy of Art and all of its influence affected Hans and Florence Knoll immensely as they began to bring modernism into furniture in the United States.


Florence Knoll table desk and credenza with Pollock Chairs

Photo Creds to Knoll Associates



Florence Knoll and Eero Saarinen defined and represented the American Modern movement with the inventive table and seating designs.

Photo Creds to Knoll Associates

In viewing these photographs one of the first things I notice is the fabric and color pop of the red of the chairs. Florence Knoll designs tables with a top that is from traditional materials (wood) but in a sleek, contemporary design. The slab of wood is thin and supported by a metal framework.


This catalog carries revolutionary designs for its time. It is not only valued for its designs and illustration of design, but for the designers of the furniture. Florence Knoll was the genius behind the catalog. She is an amazing resource regarding modern art and design. Florence Knoll is known as a designer, an inspiration, an icon, and a modernist (knoll She revolutionized the spaces where we live and work. The graphic designer of this catalog was Herbert Matter. He was Knoll’s chief graphic designer consultant for twenty years. “Herbert Matter did more than shape the company’s public image, he shaped its underlying identity.” Eero Saarinen was the architect who worked closely with Florence Knoll. His work is represented in this catalog. This catalog would have been the most deluxe catalog of its day. It was a development of revolutionary, modern designs.


This catalog fits in with the general ‘Art/ design history’ because the furniture designs illustrated and discussed in this catalog were designed by Knoll Associates who were designers ahead of their time. Hans and Florence Knoll created innovative types of furniture and workplace environments. “Since 1938, Knoll has been recognized internationally for creating workplace and residential furnishings that inspire, evolve, and endure.” (Knoll Hans and Florence Knoll were inspired by Bauhaus design. “Florence Knoll developed the idea of the modern office and pioneered the interior design profession.” This catalog represents innovation of its time and therefore it was the beginning of modern design and workplace environments. Florence Knoll established the profession of interior design and influenced much of what it is today. Not only were the designs in this catalog special for their time but set a standard for the designs of living and working environments that are still important today.



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