Man evolved with time and along with him, his couch. Humans require various types of equipment to aid them with their routine. It started with the ground, stones and later chairs, tables and sofas. Just like any designed space, furniture is a designed entity that occupies space. How well this space is occupied can depend upon the product’s composition.

Walter Knoll is an international furniture manufacturer that leads the industry with its furniture that meets perfection. The fabric, colour, design and experience is evidence the company is so respected over time.

Wilhelm Knoll founded the Knoll dynasty in 1865. In Stuttgart, Germany, he started a humble leather shop that never compromised on quality. Its material and craftsmanship made the company have a great start. The outcome of which spread “Knoll leather” as the hallmark of quality and Wilhelm Knoll was the supplier to the royal court. Half a century later, Wilhelm’s sons took over their father’s business and started designing and producing seating. During this period the company introduced its first club armchair to Germany.

The Journey of Walter Knoll - Sheet1
Club Armchair_Habitus Living

Wilhelm Knoll had two sons, Willy Knoll and Walter knoll. Walter the more active one, founded his own company. In 1925, Walter Knoll & Co. GmbH was established. Along with this, ‘Promodo’, the first modern upholstered furniture was developed. A lightweight design that was an outcome of a proper study on seating and ergonomy.

The Journey of Walter Knoll - Sheet
Walter Knoll_1stDibs.jpg

Parallelly, Wilhelm Knoll released a line of furniture called Antimott. This followed the more traditional technique of upholstery but was on par with Promodo. Both were used to furnish historical spaces like the Do X and the zeppelins.

The Journey of Walter Knoll - Sheet3
Antimott_Pamono.jpg
The Journey of Walter Knoll - Sheet4
Promodo_Walter Knoll.jpg
The Journey of Walter Knoll - Sheet5
Zeppelin Inside_Bored Panda.jpg

In this period, Walter Knoll furnished five apartments designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Between 1937-1939, the flourishing company moved headquarters and branched out. Walter Knoll’s son Hans set out to make his own company, ‘Knoll’. He came to the United States to sell his father’s products but after meeting modern architects and their works, he decided to venture on his own.

The Journey of Walter Knoll - Sheet6
Weissenhof Estate_Walter Knoll.jpg

The world war caused major damage to the Walter Knoll company and its production. But they managed to bravely restart and regain their prior states. Dieter Knoll, Willy Knoll’s son, had joined in to help the company.

Walter Knoll too was inspired to introduce modern furniture to Germany. With the support of his son Hans, they released the ‘Vostra’ model that portrayed a modern way of life. It meant to reconstruct the furniture industry from its classical taste. The clean lines of Vostra, the upholstered version of an armchair, reflected the people’s attitudes. The Vostra line helped Walter Knoll to regain its international recognition.

The Journey of Walter Knoll - Sheet7
Vostra_1stDibs.jpg
The Journey of Walter Knoll - Sheet8
Vostra_Design Market.jpg

Another groundbreaking model was the ‘Bucket chair’ or the ‘Armchair 369’. It was used in the Hilton Hotel, Berlin. A classic even today.

The Journey of Walter Knoll - Sheet9
Armchair 369_Walter Knoll.jpg

By 1964, Walter Knoll retired and the company was run by Robert Knoll. Under his leadership, Walter Knoll signed contracts with offices and created office furniture. The elegant executive offices, comfortable swivel chairs, fine conference facilities as well as elegant sofas for foyers and lobbies accumulated for the success in furnishing corporate and business premises.

Berlin’s Tegel Airport project is, without doubt, one of the highlights of the company‘s history. Meinhard von Gerkan, an architect and the company, designed the Berlin Chair for the airport‘s VIP lounge.

The Journey of Walter Knoll - Sheet10
Berlin Chair_Architonic.jpg

The relationship between Walter Knoll and Foster started when Walter Knoll manufactured furniture designed by Norman Foster. It was for Norman Foster’s renowned remodel of Berlin’s Reichstag. Foster worked with the German firm to design additional pieces, not only regular right-angled leather sofas and chairs but also a curved, modular seating system. A model called Foster 620.

The Journey of Walter Knoll - Sheet11
Foster 620_Foster + Partners.jpg

Over 150 years of business, Walter Knoll has badged itself internationally. They have won over ninety design competitions in the last fifteen years and proved their growing and evolving knack of being ahead of the industry. A few examples of their high productivity with performance are, the Leadchair, a highly aesthetic executive chair from EOOS. 

Then, With Foster + Partners Walter Knoll launched a modern club armchair, Foster 520. It was based on a new upholstery technology. And with the Italian designer Claudio Bellini they created Liz. A delicate chair, both extremely light and comfortable.

The Journey of Walter Knoll - Sheet12
Leadchair_Stylepark.jpg
The Journey of Walter Knoll - Sheet13
Foster 520_Bene.jpg
The Journey of Walter Knoll - Sheet14
Liz_bonluxat.jpg

The company encourages its customers to use their furniture in their homes. It may feel like office furniture but has an elegance that would fit into a room and elevate its aesthetic. Now the company sells desks, carpets, pillows and other prominent furniture. All of them are so unique in their concepts, choice of material, design and comfort. Walter Knoll ensures that their standard of perfection is met at each stage and in every category of product they create. 

Walter Knoll has repeatedly made its mark on furniture history, created classic pieces and icons of the avant-garde, and is acclaimed worldwide as a master of the design of modernity.

References

Walter Knoll. Walter Knoll on Tour. [online]. Available at:https://www.walterknoll.de/en/inspiration/news/walter-Knoll-on-tour [Accessed date: 9/04/2021]

Stephanie Anton. AMBISTA. Stories: Walter Knoll – the furniture dynasty by Walter Knoll AG & Co. KG | ambista » B2B network of the furnishing industry. [online]. Available at:https://www.ambista.com/en/magazine/walter-knoll-the-furniture-dynasty [Accessed date: 9/04/2021]

Architonic.com. WALTER KNOLL products, collections and more | Architonic. [online]. Available at:https://www.architonic.com/en/microsite/walter-knoll/3100147 [Accessed date: 9/04/2021]

Designers Spotlight. HQ Designs. 150 years of furniture design: The history of Walter Knoll. [online]. Available at:http://hqdesigns.de/en/walter-knoll-moebeldesign/ [Accessed date: 9/04/2021]

Abigail R. Kurian
Author

While keeping to her roots, Abigail likes to venture unconventional paths. Exploring a designer's journey of concept making excites her anyday. While pursuing architecture she invests time in photography and music. She believes when designing, sustainability is a prerequisite along with adapting aesthetics.

Write A Comment