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Contents and Arrangement | A Finding Aid to the Florence Knoll Bassett papers, 1932-2000 | Digitized Collection

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.

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  • 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.
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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.

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.

Series 3: Drawings, Sketches, and Designs, 1932-1984, 1999
(Boxes 1-2; 2 portfolios)

The first item in this series is a portfolio of original, and copies of, drawings, sketches, plans, and miscellany, such as two greeting cards designed by Hans and Florence Knoll, in addition to copies of printed matter and photographs of projects undertaken by Knoll Associates. The majority of the designs were executed by Knoll Bassett for her own use or as more formal presentations for clients, but there are also copies of sketches by others including Hans Knoll and Andy Warhol. The material includes the original drawing for Knoll Bassett's first house design at Kingswood School, executed in 1932. Material relating to Knoll projects illustrate Knoll Bassett's practice of using three-dimensional models with fabric swatches applied to furniture layout plans for client presentations, a technique which later became a standard in the profession. The portfolio is annotated by Knoll Bassett.
A spiral-bound portfolio containing sketches by Knoll Bassett of a cruise of the Greek Islands in 1967 can also be found here.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.