The Furniture Brand of Modernity
A vivid company biography of leading furniture manufacturer Walter Knoll based on its formative figures Wilhelm, Hans, and Walter Knoll and, for more than 25 years to date, Markus Benz. Walter Knoll, the book, charts the more than one-and-a-half-century-old history of this remarkable furniture dynasty, tracing the evolution of its designs in relation to key cultural and historical developments.
When the Thomas Mann House in Los Angeles was recently bought by the Federal Republic of Germany and transformed into a representative “transatlantic meeting place,” it was Walter Knoll furnishings that defined its interior design and showcased German creativity and economic-cultural performance. Based in Herrenberg, near Stuttgart, the more than 150-year-old furniture business is one of the most successful furniture companies of the modern era and a global leader in the high-end furnishings segment.
Walter Knoll’s impressively long history dates back to Wilhelm Knoll, the founding father of the Knoll dynasty, who first set up a leather shop in Stuttgart in 1865. Knoll rose from being a tanner and merchant to the court purveyor to the House of Württemberg. When his sons, Willy and Walter, took over the company in 1907, they began producing seating—introducing the first club armchair to Germany and becoming the industry’s first exporter. Their advances marked a revolution in upholstered furniture.
After founding his own company in the 1920s, Walter Knoll was a breakout sensation in the avant-garde interior design world with a landmark exhibition at the Weissenhof Estate in Stuttgart, under the direction of Mies van der Rohe, in 1927. His son, Hans Knoll, went to the U.S. in the 1930s and himself founded his own company, Knoll Inc., and with it, re-wrote design history. In 1993, Markus Benz, the son of Rolf Benz, joined the Knoll ranks, continuing the successful cooperation with internationally-renowned architects and designers.
This fascinating company story shows how the Stuttgart area, one of the strongest economic regions in the world, was also a wellspring of modern design and culture.
Bernd Polster, a publicist and artist, was one of the first book packagers in Germany, developing and implementing book concepts for German and international publishing houses since 1999. To this end, he founded the büro formweh. One of his main fields of interest is cultural history. Most of his books have been translated into other languages, including the standard work on the design brand Braun. Polster is Germany’s best-known design author and Bauhaus expert. New releases: Der Architekt seines Ruhms (The Architect of his Own Fame), a biography of Walter Gropius, and the somewhat different book for the 100th anniversary: Das wahre Bauhaus (The Real Bauhaus), published by teNeues. Find more information at www.berndpolster.de
Walter Knoll, the furniture brand of modernity, is responsible for the creation of numerous avant-garde classics and icons – style-setting interiors incessantly shaping our attitude towards life for over 150 years
This book reveals the complete history of this remarkable company with rich illustrations and exciting texts by bestselling author, Bernd Polster