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Engineered to SellEuropean Émigrés and the Making of Consumer Capitalism$
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Jan L. Logemann

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226660011

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226660295.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 04 August 2021

Corporate America and the International Style: The Transnational Network of Knoll Associates between Europe and the United States

Corporate America and the International Style: The Transnational Network of Knoll Associates between Europe and the United States

Chapter:
(p.222) Eight Corporate America and the International Style: The Transnational Network of Knoll Associates between Europe and the United States
Source:
Engineered to Sell
Author(s):

Jan L. Logemann

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226660295.003.0012

The chapter uses the furniture company Knoll International as a case study for the reciprocal transnational design transfers in mid-century consumer marketing between the United States and Europe. Knoll’s approach was different from the mass-market design work of industrial designers such as Raymond Loewy and Walter Landor with regard to the consumer segments they targeted. Market research and consumer surveys do not feature prominently with Knoll’s designs, where the artist’s vision rather than anticipated consumer reactions set the tone. Yet, with corporate and institutional clients making up a sizeable share of its sales, Knoll, too, incorporated professional research and a thorough understanding of client needs into its design jobs, as the emergence of its “planning unit” headed by Florence Knoll shows. Knoll’s case also shines a light on the return of commercial modernism back to Europe after World War II. Here, Knoll acted as an American company, promoting “American” or “international” design forms with obvious “European” roots.The history of Knoll, finally, provides a powerful example of immigrant entrepreneurship.

Keywords:   Knoll International, Transatlantic transfers, Hans and Florence Knoll, history of design furniture, emigre networks, Bauhaus designs, Museum of Modern Art

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