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. The collection was organized into what Bassett termed "storage units," the first container being divided into three units and the collection as a whole being divided into six units. Knoll Bassett supplied a detailed inventory of the contents of each container and the subjects represented in each porfolio or folder. Subject headings from this inventory have been used in the Series Description/Container Listing. Knoll Bassett also supplied a vita summarizing her career and copies of this, and her original container inventory are enclosed with the collection and can be consulted at AAA's research center in Washington D.C. The collection is arranged as seven series. These series represent the categories into which Knoll Bassett organized the material, with the exception that Letters and Awards are presented as two series in the finding aid. Most of the items in Series 1 to 4 are presented as portfolios in spiral-bound notebooks and the remainder of the collection is organized in folders. Series 1: Biographical Material, 1932-1999 (Box 1; 1 portfolio) Series 2: Selected Publications, 1946-1990, 1999 (Box 1; 1 portfolio) Series 3: Drawings, Sketches, and Designs, 1932-1984, 1999 (Boxes 1-2; 2 portfolios) Series 4: Photographs and Printed Material, 1956-1997, 1999 (Box 2; 1 portfolio) Series 5: Subject Files, circa 1930s-1999 (Box 3; 1.0 linear ft.) Series 6: Letters, circa 1930s-2000 (Box 4; 7 folders) Series 7: Awards, 1954-1999 (Box 4; 6 folders)
Access Note / Rights:
The collection is open for research. Use requires an appointment.
The papers of architect and designer Florence Knoll Bassett, measure approximately 2 linear feet dating from 1932 to 2000. Through correspondence, sketches, drawings, designs, subject files, photographs, and printed material, the collection selectively documents Knoll Bassett's education, her work with Knoll Associates from the 1940s until her resignation in 1965, and projects undertaken since her retirement. It is an important source of information on the development of interior architecture and design from the 1940s to the 1970s.
Florence Knoll Bassett papers, 1932-2000. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
The papers of Florence Knoll Bassett in the Archives of American Art were digitized in 2008 and total 1280 images.
Funding for the digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Florence Knoll Bassett was born Florence Schust in 1917 and was affectionately known as Shu by her colleagues and friends. She was orphaned at age 12 and then cared for by Emile Tessin, a friend of the family whom her mother had appointed as Florence's legal guardian in the event of her death. When arrangements were being made for Florence to attend boarding school she was given the opportunity to make the selection. Kingswood School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, held a strong aesthetic appeal for her and she "made an immediate decision that it was the right place for me," beginning her architectural studies under the school's art director, Rachel de Wolfe Raseman.
The collection was donated to the Archives of American Art by Florence Knoll Bassett in 2000.
The papers of Florence Knoll Bassett in the Archives of American Art were digitized in 2008 and total 1,280 images. The papers have been scanned in their entirety.
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001