Knoll is a design firm that produces office systems, seating, files and storage, tables and desks, textiles, and accessories. The company has been recognized as a worldwide design leader. The company also sells furniture for the home by top designers including Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Harry Bertoia, Frank Gehry, Maya Lin and Eero Saarinen.
The company was founded in New York City in 1938 by Hans Knoll. Production facilities were moved to Pennsylvania in 1940. After the death of Hans in 1955, his wife Florence Knoll took over as head of the company. The company is headquartered in East Greenville, Pennsylvania and has three other major manufacturing sites: Toronto, Grand Rapids, and Muskegon. In addition, the company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).
Knoll is a leader in practices designed to protect the biosphere, conserve natural resources, and reduce waste. Knoll has teamed up with certification organizations including the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute, The U.S. Green Building Council, The Forest Stewardship Council, and the International Organization for Standardization to commit to sustainability. Knoll was also the first contract furniture manufacturer to join Chicago Climate Exchange as a result of their nonpartisan participation in the Energy and Climate Change Group of the Clinton Global Initiative.
Many Knoll products are environmentally friendly, but the most well known is the Life Chair. The chair is rated Sustainable Gold under the SMaRT Standard, meaning it features minimal materials, recycled and recyclable content, and environmental fabric options.
In 2006, Knoll and the World Monuments Fund, a New York-based non-profit organization, launched Modernism at Risk, an advocacy and conservation program. Modernism at Risk encourages innovative design solutions for imperiled Modern buildings, provides funding for conservation projects, and raises awareness of the threats to Modern architecture through exhibitions and lectures. The World Monuments Fund/Knoll Modernism Prize is awarded biennially to a designer or design firm in recognition of projects that preserve Modern landmarks.
This year (2008), the first award was given to Winfried Brenne and Franz Jaschke of the firm Brenne Gesellschaft von Architekten. The colleagues received the Knoll Modernism Prize for their restoration of a school in Germany built in 1930. They were presented with the Prize at a dinner with over 70 attendees at the Knoll showroom in New York.