Contemporary Furniture and Textiles


Contemporary furniture and textiles

(Figure 1) Photo taken by myself: Aly Brewer

My first visual impression when viewing the cover of Contemporary Furniture and Textiles was that my attention was immediately drawn to the bolded, red “K” in the middle. The background is filled with contrasting colors of grey and black with the word “Knoll” repeatedly stated. The repetition of these words is highlighted even more with the angular font of the “K” over it. Due to the angular font and typology of the word, you will not forget that this book has to do with Knoll Associates Inc. The cover comes off with a sort of metallic background, adding to the chic aesthetic that the font also contributes to. In this time period, one could view this cover as modern and sophisticated, much like how some of their own furniture and interior designs replicate. The book itself is quite large and rectangular with spiral cords keeping together the pages (Figure 1). This makes it easy for the viewer to shift from page to page in an organized manner. As you start to flip through the pages, you realize the glossy texture and ability to shift from one design to the next. The entire design of the book tends to keep the clean and sophisticated tone that is noticed in the actual designs. In terms of smell, it was quite hard to draw out a smell, but you could almost smell the freshness of each page, refreshing the senses as you flip from one page to the other. The pages turned in a manner that was crisp and clean. Initially, I was very impressed with the simplicity of the catalogue and the author’s ability to capture the furniture pieces in a setting that is easy for the reader to understand its’ design and use. Almost every picture gave off the impression that it was staged to give off the perfect setting for the furniture. For example, the bedroom was staged to give off the impression that someone had just finished reading a book and the glasses and an apple are laying perfectly next to it (Figure 2).

(Figure 2) Photo taken by myself: Aly Brewer

This is the author’s way of keeping the simple yet modern tone to its’ pages by using staging to describe the functionality of the furniture. Each section is categorized by different furniture type and is differentiated by using a different primary color. The typography displayed within the catalog is sharp and sophisticated, matching the designs within to keep the tone stagnant. To keep the viewer focused on the actual furniture and interior design, the use of words is limited to each page. They tend to focus on a blueprint of the furniture design behind a primary color while also displaying an image of the environment that is should be placed in in black and white. This gives a connection to the reader and the designer to better understand what it is meant for and the environment that may suite the type of furniture the best. I tied this concept to the design of its’ natural materials used to make and fit the piece of furniture and how it is tied to its functionality, which I found to be extremely interesting.

What makes this book so special is its’ ability to serve two purposes in an exemplary manner. At first glance one may have thought this was just a book displaying the design of furniture. Then one may start to realize that the functionality is exhibited in settings that make this book also serve the purpose of being an inspiration for interior designers. Some may even call this book the “bible for interior design.” This book set the scene for what we see today in terms of modern interior design. Matter’s ability to display and capture the perfect moments in a sophisticated manner set the standard for a way of living and working environments today. In terms of the actual graphic design of the book, “Herbert Matter did more than shape the company’s public image, he shaped its underlying identity (“Herbert Matter | Knoll Inspiration”, 2020).” His way to grasp the architecture and interior design throughout the book paved way for Knoll Associates Inc. and the rest of the interior design/ furniture community. This was one of the most modern catalogues of furniture and interior design published together. Keep in mind that Florence Knoll was the systems thinker behind it all, as she was a perfectionist when it came to architecture. Perhaps she is the one to credit for the simplicity of placing the furniture in the most suitable and fitting environments.

Knoll Associates were inspired by Florence’s idea to use the ideas of Bauhaus in their designs. In this time period, they sought after materials that could be easily mass produced by technological innovation. This drove her to use the ideas of Bauhaus in relation to the men’s fashion industry (“the history of knoll”).  Their influence led them to the modernism and sleek look that drove their ideas into the United States.

One single page dedicated to a flock of birds. Photo taken by myself: Aly Brewer. Some are confused on why this is added to the catalog. This can be seen from many different view points and can have many different meanings so the picture is up for your decision on what is it meant to be. Knoll has a background of dedicating pages to things he truly cares about. A perfect example of this is when he does the same thing for his dog in the catalog (see figure 3). 


(Figure 3) Photo taken by myself: Aly Brewer

This catalog is not only renowned for its revolutionary design but also for its inclusivity of revolutionary designers and others that were involved in the making of this book. As stated before, Florence Knoll was recognized as the systems thinker behind it all. Her expertise in architecture drove to the exquisite development of the furniture displayed throughout the catalog. Along with that, the actual designer, Herbert Matter was known for his talent of graphic design. His contribution to the development of photography and design led him to be named the 1983 Medalist of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (“1983 AIGA Medalist: Herbert Matter”, 2020). An architect that worked closely with Florence Knoll was Eeero Saarinen. His work is represented throughout this catalog as some of the most recognized designs of all time. This started the development of modernized and rebellious architectural and interior designs.


Herbert Matter | Knoll Inspiration. (2020). Retrieved 5 February 2020, from

the history of knoll. (2020). Retrieved 5 February 2020, from

1983 AIGA Medalist: Herbert Matter. (2020). Retrieved 5 February 2020, from