National Design Awards: Deftly Balancing Art and Industry, Knoll Honored for Corporate Achievement

Knoll’s Model 1500 Series desk (1956) designed by Florence Knoll and Model 70 chair (1950) designed by Eero Saarinen, Eclat (1974) designed by Anni Albers, and Jehs+Laub lounge chair (2008). (Photos from left: Knoll and Ilan Rubin for Knoll)

Following in the footsteps of organizations ranging from the U.S. Green Building Council and the Walker Art Center to Google and Adobe, Knoll is the winner of the 2011 National Design Award for Corporate and Institutional Achievement. The honor recognizes the East Greenville, Pennsylvania-based company’s use of design as a strategic tool and its efforts to advance the relationship between design and quality of life. Founded in 1938 by Hans Knoll on the conviction that good design enriches lives, the company pioneered the planning of office interiors under Florence Knoll (who turned 94 on Tuesday), championed modern design and innovative manufacturing processes, and has worked with designers from Alvar Aalto to Otto Zapf. “Everyone who has ever been involved in designing, manufacturing, or selling our products deserves credit for, and should take pride in, this award,” said Andrew Cogan, CEO of Knoll.

It’s been a busy May for the company, which earlier this month celebrated the opening of “Knoll Textiles, 1945–2010,” an exhibition on view through July 31 at the Bard Graduate Center, and is now completing final preparations for NeoCon in Chicago. So what does Knoll have in store for the mega trade show? “We will introduce ReGeneration, the latest member of the Generation family of chairs,” Cogan told us of the new streamlined piece designed by New Zealand-based Formway. Made from fewer parts, the chair uses post-consumer recycled content from soda bottles in its structure as well as corn-based renewable material and bio-based upholstery foam. Among other big Knoll NeoCon debuts are “enhancements to our Antenna Workspaces and Reff Profiles furniture lines, a new collection of conference tables designed by Lehman Smith McLeish, and the Krusin Seating Collection for KnollStudio, as well as new textiles from Dorothy Cosonas and Suzanne Tick.”