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Florence Knoll Bassett papers, 1932-2000

Contents and Arrangement

Before donating her papers to the Archives of American Art, Knoll Bassett organized the material in portfolios and color-coded files and designed four containers for them. Because the method of arrangement in itself provides insight into Knoll Bassett's style and creativity the collection has been minimally processed with the addition of acid-free materials for preservation reasons and the transcription of labels which may, over time, become detached. The original order of the collection has been retained throughout.

Make a Request

  • To request an appointment to view materials, make your selections using the checkboxes and click the "Reading Room" button. Please note, you will receive the full box.
  • To request reproductions, make your selections using the checkboxes and click the "Reproduction" button.

Series 1: Biographical Material , 1932-1999
(Box 1; 1 portfolio)

This series comprises a spiral-bound portfolio designed and compiled by Knoll Bassett to "briefly chart the direction of my life from 1932 onward." The portfolio documents her artistic development during her years at Kingswood School and Cranbrook Academy of Art; her work at Knoll Associates including the presentation of Knoll showrooms and work undertaken for a variety of corporate clients; and personal architecture projects in Vermont and Florida. Included are copies of designs from all periods of her career, and copies of letters and photographs of individuals and significant events throughout her life. Biographical text, written by Knoll Bassett, accompanies the material.
Included are copies of designs from all periods of her career, and copies of letters and photographs of individuals and significant events throughout her life. Biographical text, written by Knoll Bassett, accompanies the material.
Description Container Select
Portfolio: A Chronology of Florence Knoll Bassett from 1932 Onward, compiled, 1999
1
1

Series 2: Selected Publications , 1946-1990, 1999
(Box 1; 1 portfolio)

This series comprises a spiral-bound portfolio of copies of articles documenting Knoll Bassett's career in various art and design publications, newspapers, and encyclopedias. See Series 4 for additional printed material.
Description Container Select
Portfolio: Selected Publications from 1946 until 1990, compiled, 1999
1
2

Series 4: Photographs and Printed Material , 1956-1997, 1999
(Box 2; 1 portfolio, 1 book)

This series contains a spiral-bound portfolio of six photographic prints of Knoll Bassett with clients and colleagues, including Eero Saarinen, from the 1950s and 1960s, followed by printed material from 1959 to 1997 documenting her career. A copy of the book, Knoll Design, can also be found here. See Series 2 for additional printed material.
Description Container Select
Portfolio: Photographs of Florence Knoll and Others and Articles in Newspapers and Magazines, 1956-1997, compiled 1999
2
2
Book: Knoll Design, by Eric Larrabee and Massimo Vignelli, Harry N. Abrams Inc., New York, 1985
(not scanned)
2
3

Series 5: Subject Files , circa 1930s-1999
(Box 3; 1.0 linear ft.)

The series contains original, and copies of notes, letters, drawings, sketches, plans, photographic material, and printed matter, as well as historical notes written by Knoll Bassett. Originals of some of the material in Series 1 can be found here.
Folders 1 and 2 contain material relating to Knoll Bassett's education and her relationship with the Saarinen family, including original illustrated letters from Eero Saarinen. The majority of the material relates to projects undertaken by the Knoll Planning Unit, including showroom designs and some of the company's most important and innovative projects for corporate clients. The files typically contain annotated plans and sketches in addition to photographs, transparencies, and negatives of each project. Specific aspects of the Planning Unit's operations, such as the development of textiles and graphics, are also documented here, as are the individual contributions of early Knoll designers. Material relating to personal projects undertaken by Knoll Bassett in Vermont and Florida is also included here.
This series was arranged by Knoll Bassett in numbered folders, some of which contain two or more related sub folders which are indicated by an indent in the Container Listing.
Description Container Select
Kingswood; Cranbrook Academy of Art, circa 1930s, 1983-1994, undated
(Kingswood includes photographs of Rachel de Wolfe Raseman, taken 1936; Cranbrook includes photos of Eliel and Eero Saarinen and Carl Milles)
3
1
Eero Saarinen, Letters and "Architecture History Lesson" Drawings; Loja Saarinen, Original Model and Photographs of Model of Dress, 1935-1936, 1999
3
2
Coral Gables, Florida; New York City, circa 1950s, undated
(includes photographs of Sutton Place and Manhattan house residences)
3
3
Vermont House: Main House, Guest House, Farm Buildings and View, Tennis Barn and Studio, circa 1980s-circa 1990s
3
4
Florence Knoll Furniture Designs: Article by Craig Miller, Seating and Tables, Storage Units, Office Furniture and Dormitory Design, circa 1940s-1999
3
5
Early Knoll Designers, Furniture, circa 1930s-circa 1940s, 1999
3
6
Knoll Graphics, Herbert Matter, circa 1950s-circa 1960s, 1999
3
7
Knoll Textiles, circa 1950s-circa 1960s, 1988, 1999
3
8
Knoll Exhibitions: Mies van der Rohe; Knoll au Louvre; Dow Chemical and Detroit Institute of Arts; Textilien aus U.S.A., circa 1940s-1999, undated
3
9
Knoll Showroom, 601 Madison Avenue, New York, 1948, 1999
3
10
Knoll Showrooms, Dallas, Paris, and Miami, 1947-1959
3
11
Knoll Showroom, 575 Madison Avenue, New York, 1951, 1999
3
12
Knoll Showroom, Chicago, 1953, 1999
3
13
Knoll Showroom, San Francisco, 1954
3
14
Knoll Showroom, Milan, 1956
3
15
Knoll Showroom, Los Angeles, 1960
3
16
Columbia Broadcasting Systems, Inc. (CBS), Madison Avenue, 1952-1954, 1999
3
17
Look Publications, circa 1962
3
18
Connecticut General Building, circa 1950s, 1984
3
19
H. J. Heinz Company, 1999, undated
3
20
First National Bank of Miami and Southeast Bank, 1957, 1982, 1999
3
21
Columbia Broadcasting Systems, Inc. (CBS): General, 35th Floor, Frank Stanton's Office Suite, 1964
3
22
Knoll Bassett's Inventory of Box 3, 1999
3
23

Series 6: Letters , circa 1930s-2000
(Box 4; 7 folders)

This series contains letters selected by Knoll Bassett to document significant events throughout her life and career. As in Series 5, the originals for some of the material in Series 1 can be found here. Correspondents include Carl Milles, Eero and Loja Saarinen, David Rockefeller, Katharine Graham, Nancy Reagan, Indira Ghandi, Frank Stanton, and Isamu Noguchi. In addition to letters the series also contains printed matter and other material of interest, such as an original invitation with a guest list and photographs from a 1947 party given by Howard Meyers, Editor-in-Chief of Architectural Forum a wedding card made by Charles and Ray Eames on the occasion of Florence Knoll's marriage to Harry Hood Bassett in 1958; and an invitation from the White House from 1976.
The letters are arranged by decade.
Description Container Select
Knoll Bassett's Inventory of Box 4, Letters, 1999
4
1
Letters (1930s-1940s), 1936-1947, 1999
4
2
Letters (1950s), 1953-1959
4
3
Letters (1960s), 1961-1968
4
4
Letters (1970s), 1972-1978
4
5
Letters (1980s), 1980-2000
4
6
Letters (1990s), 1984, 1991-1999
4
7

Series 7: Awards , 1954-1999
(Box 4; 6 folders)

This series documents some of the awards and honorary degrees presented to Knoll Bassett over the course of her career, including the Gold Medal for Industrial Design awarded by the American Institute of Architects in 1961 and the Total Design Award given by the American Society of Interior Designers in 1977. Materials include award certificates with related correspondence and printed material. In some cases there are also notes for, or the text of, remarks given by Knoll Bassett upon acceptance of an award.
The material is arranged by decade.
Description Container Select
Knoll Bassett's Inventory of Box 4, Awards, 1999
4
8
Awards (1950s), 1954-1956
4
9
Awards (1960s), 1961-1965
4
10
Awards (1970s), 1976-1979
4
11
Awards (1980s), 1982-1989
4
12
Awards (1990s), 1990-1999
4
13

Make a Request

  • To request an appointment to view materials, make your selections using the checkboxes and click the "Reading Room" button. Please note, you will receive the full box.
  • To request reproductions, make your selections using the checkboxes and click the "Reproduction" button.