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Florence Knoll Bassett papers

Creator:
Knoll, Florence, 1917-  Search this
Names:
Cranbrook Academy of Art  Search this
Cranbrook Kingswood School (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.)  Search this
Hans G. Knoll Furniture Company  Search this
Knoll Associates, inc.  Search this
Knoll International, inc.  Search this
Cheek, Leslie, 1908-  Search this
Eames, Charles  Search this
Gandhi, Indira, 1917-1984  Search this
Graham, Katharine, 1917-  Search this
Helm, John  Search this
Johnson, Philip, 1906-2005  Search this
Knoll, Walter C.  Search this
Miller, R. Craig  Search this
Milles, Carl, 1875-1955  Search this
Raseman, Rachel de Wolfe  Search this
Reagan, Nancy, 1923-  Search this
Saarinen, Eero, 1910-1961  Search this
Saarinen, Eliel, 1873-1950  Search this
Slavin, Maeve  Search this
Extent:
2 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Sketches
Drawings
Photographs
Sketchbooks
Date:
1932-2000
Summary:
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.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of architect, and interior designer and planner Florence Knoll Bassett, measure approximately 2 linear feet dating from 1932 to 2000. The collection selectively documents Knoll Bassett's education and her career at Knoll Associates, Inc. from the 1940s until her resignation in 1965, in addition to personal design projects and other activities after leaving the company. It is an important source of information on the development of interior architecture and design from the 1940s to the 1970s, chronicling the Knoll mission to synthesize space, furniture, and design by creating interiors based on practical use, comfort, and aesthetics.

The collection documents the growth of Knoll's international reputation for its modern furnishings and interiors and the impact of a business philosophy that encompassed design excellence, technological innovation, and mass production. The material includes a chronology of Knoll Bassett's career; a portfolio of sketches, drawings and designs; photographs of Knoll Bassett and others; subject files containing sketches and photographic material; letters from friends, colleagues, clients and others; awards received by Knoll Bassett throughout her career; and printed material.

Much of the material is annotated with historical and biographical notes written by Knoll Bassett which provide invaluable contextual information for the materials found therein. The notes are dated 1999 in the Container Listing, under the assumption that they were written by Florence Knoll Bassett as she was arranging her archival papers.
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.

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)
Biographical Note:
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.

At Kingswood Knoll Bassett met the Saarinen family, studying under Eliel Saarinen and developing her interest in texture and color through her friendship with Loja Saarinen who supervised the school's weaving studio. Following Florence's graduation from Kingswood in 1934, Eliel Saarinen encouraged her to spend some time at Cranbrook Academy of Art before attending an accredited architecture school. She spent the next two years at Cranbrook working closely with advanced students and artists such as the Saarinens and Carl Milles, and gaining experience in all aspects of design.

Knoll Bassett then studied for two years at the Architectural Association in London, spending summers with the Saarinens in Europe. She completed her formal training at the Illinois Institute of Technology where she studied under Mies van der Rohe, whom she credits with having "a profound effect on my design approach and the clarification of design."

After graduation Knoll Bassett worked for architecture firms in Boston and New York where she met Hans Knoll who was then in the process of establishing a furniture business. In 1943 she began working for him in her spare time as an interior space planner and designer. In 1946 the two were married and formed Knoll Associates, Inc.

As director of the Knoll Planning Unit, Knoll Bassett established herself as one of the most important and influential interior planners and designers of the second half of the twentieth century. Believing that intelligent design "strikes at the root of living requirements and changing habits," she established the practice of working closely with the corporate sector to determine the needs of the people who would actually use the spaces that her company designed. Her connections with leading contemporary architects and designers, and the company's commitment to crediting designers by name and paying them royalties, laid the foundations for the strong working relationships upon which the commercial success of Knoll Associates was built. Drawing on a pool of top architects and designers, many of whom were personal friends, Knoll Bassett directed the company's Bauhaus approach, incorporating design excellence, technological innovation, and mass production in a seamless package of "total design."

While Knoll Bassett oversaw the creative process of the Planning Unit's operations in its entirety, she was also directly responsible for many of the individual elements used in the Unit's projects. During the war years, she worked with her designers to overcome the scarcity of materials, establishing Knoll Textiles in response to the dearth of available fabrics and textile colors, and developing the company's hallmark style of spare clean lines and vibrant colors in a functional, comfortable, and aesthetically appealing space. Finding that much of the "fill-in" furniture, primarily cabinetry, that she envisaged in many of her plans was not available, Knoll Bassett designed the pieces herself. She used the Knoll showrooms as "experimental laboratories" to convince clients to use modern ideas and materials, showcasing and putting into production the classic designs of people such as Eero Saarinen, Mies van der Rohe, Jens Risom, Harry Bertoia, Isamu Noguchi, and Marcel Breuer.

After the war Knoll Associates expanded to Europe through a series of government contracts which resulted ultimately in the formation of Knoll International. When Hans Knoll died suddenly in an automobile accident in 1955 Florence became president of the company. She married Harry Hood Bassett in 1958 and began to divide her time between New York and Florida. In 1959 she sold her interest in Knoll Associates to Art Metal and retired as President of the company the following year, while continuing to work as a consultant and serving as Design Director. In 1961 she became the first woman to be awarded the Gold Medal for Industrial Design by the American Institute of Architects, one of many awards received over the course of her career. In 1965 she resigned from Knoll Associates entirely after completing the interior design for the CBS headquarters in New York.

Following her retirement Knoll Bassett devoted more time to private commissions and other interests such as her campaign against billboards in Miami in the mid 1980s. She spent summers in Vermont and winters in Florida with her husband, until his death in 1991. In July 2001, Metropolis magazine published a rare interview with Knoll Bassett in which she reflects upon the life she so skillfully documented in the extraordinary gift of her archival papers to the Archives of American Art.
Provenance:
The collection was donated to the Archives of American Art by Florence Knoll Bassett in 2000.
Restrictions:
The collection is open for research. Use requires an appointment.
Rights:
The Florence Knoll Bassett papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
Topic:
Interior decoration firms  Search this
Interior decorators  Search this
Furniture designers  Search this
Architects  Search this
Women architects  Search this
Interior decoration  Search this
Design, Industrial  Search this
Women designers  Search this
Designers  Search this
Genre/Form:
Sketches
Drawings
Photographs
Sketchbooks
Citation:
Florence Knoll Bassett papers, 1932-2000. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.knolflor
See more items in:
Florence Knoll Bassett papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-knolflor
Online Media:

1985 Inaugural Ball: President Ronald Reagan and Mrs. Nancy Reagan Dancing in National Air and Space Museum, 1985

Creator:
Avino, Mark A  Search this
Subject:
Reagan, Ronald  Search this
Reagan, Nancy 1923-  Search this
National Air and Space Museum  Search this
Type:
Black-and-white photographs
Place:
United States
Date:
1985
Topic:
Balls (Parties)  Search this
Presidential inaugurations  Search this
Presidents  Search this
Presidents--Inauguration  Search this
Local number:
SIA Acc. 11-009 [85-725-17]
Restrictions & Rights:
No access restrictions Many of SIA's holdings are located off-site, and advance notice is recommended to consult a collection. Please email the SIA Reference Team at osiaref@si.edu
No Known Copyright Restrictions
Data Source:
Smithsonian Institution Archives
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_arc_308427

1985 Inaugural Ball: President Ronald Reagan and Mrs. Nancy Reagan in National Air and Space Museum, January 21, 1985

Creator:
Avino, Mark A  Search this
Subject:
Reagan, Ronald  Search this
Reagan, Nancy 1923-  Search this
National Air and Space Museum (U.S.)  Search this
Type:
Black-and-white negatives
Place:
United States
Date:
1985
January 21, 1985
Topic:
Balls (Parties)  Search this
Presidential inaugurations  Search this
Presidents--Inauguration  Search this
Local number:
SIA Acc. 11-009 [85-725-05]
Restrictions & Rights:
No access restrictions Many of SIA's holdings are located off-site, and advance notice is recommended to consult a collection. Please email the SIA Reference Team at osiaref@si.edu
No Known Copyright Restrictions
Data Source:
Smithsonian Institution Archives
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_arc_308432

1985 Inaugural Ball: President Ronald Reagan and Mrs. Nancy Reagan in National Air and Space Museum, January 21, 1985

Creator:
Avino, Mark A  Search this
Subject:
Reagan, Ronald  Search this
Reagan, Nancy 1923-  Search this
National Air and Space Museum (U.S.)  Search this
Type:
Black-and-white negatives
Place:
United States
Date:
1985
January 21, 1985
Topic:
Balls (Parties)  Search this
Presidential inaugurations  Search this
Presidents--Inauguration  Search this
Local number:
SIA Acc. 11-009 [85-725-18]
Restrictions & Rights:
No access restrictions Many of SIA's holdings are located off-site, and advance notice is recommended to consult a collection. Please email the SIA Reference Team at osiaref@si.edu
No Known Copyright Restrictions
Data Source:
Smithsonian Institution Archives
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_arc_308433

President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan, Inauguration Ball

Author:
Unknown  Search this
Subject:
Reagan, Ronald  Search this
Reagan, Nancy 1923-  Search this
National Museum of Natural History (U.S.)  Search this
United States President (1981-1989 : Reagan)  Search this
Physical description:
Color: Black and White; Size: 10w x 8h; Type of Image: Event; Group, candid; Medium: Photographic print
Type:
Photographic print
Group, candid
Event
Place:
United States
Date:
1981
Topic:
Event  Search this
Inaugural Balls  Search this
Rotundas  Search this
Inaugurations  Search this
Musicians  Search this
Inauguration Day  Search this
Inaugural events  Search this
Crowds  Search this
Presidents' spouses  Search this
First ladies  Search this
Speeches, addresses, etc  Search this
Standard number:
81-754-23
Restrictions & Rights:
No restrictions
Data Source:
Smithsonian Archives - History Div
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sic_10487

President Reagan and Nancy Reagan at Podium, NMNH

Author:
Unknown  Search this
Subject:
Reagan, Nancy 1923-  Search this
Reagan, Ronald  Search this
United States President (1981-1989 : Reagan)  Search this
National Museum of Natural History (U.S.)  Search this
Physical description:
Number of Images: 1; Color: Black and white; Size: 10w x 8h; Type of Image: Event; Group, candid; Medium: Photographic print
Type:
Event
Photographic print
Group, candid
Place:
United States
Date:
January 20, 1981
Topic:
Musicians  Search this
Inaugural Balls  Search this
Inaugurations  Search this
Balconies  Search this
Rotundas  Search this
Event  Search this
Presidents' spouses  Search this
Crowds  Search this
Inauguration Day  Search this
Inaugural events  Search this
Standard number:
SIA2009-0248 or 81-753-18A
Restrictions & Rights:
No restrictions
Data Source:
Smithsonian Archives - History Div
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sic_11962

President Reagan Speaking at One of His Inaugural Balls

Author:
Unknown  Search this
Subject:
Reagan, Nancy 1923-  Search this
Reagan, Ronald  Search this
United States President (1981-1989 : Reagan)  Search this
Physical description:
Number of Images: 1; Color: Black and white; Size: 10w x 8h; Type of Image: Event; Group, candid; Medium: Photographic print
Type:
Event
Photographic print
Group, candid
Place:
United States
Date:
January 20, 1981
Topic:
Musicians  Search this
Inaugural Balls  Search this
Event  Search this
Inaugurations  Search this
Bands  Search this
Music  Search this
Speeches, addresses, etc  Search this
Crowds  Search this
Presidents' spouses  Search this
First ladies  Search this
Inauguration Day  Search this
Standard number:
SIA2009-0249 or 81-505-36
Restrictions & Rights:
No restrictions
Data Source:
Smithsonian Archives - History Div
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sic_11965

President and Mrs. Reagan at the NMNH Inaugural Ball

Author:
Unknown  Search this
Subject:
Reagan, Nancy 1923-  Search this
Reagan, Ronald  Search this
National Museum of Natural History (U.S.)  Search this
United States President (1981-1989 : Reagan)  Search this
Physical description:
Number of Images: 1; Color: Black and white; Size: 10w x 8h; Type of Image: Group, candid; Event ; Medium: Photographic print
Type:
Event
Photographic print
Group, candid
Place:
United States
Date:
January 20, 1981
Topic:
Inaugural Balls  Search this
Event  Search this
Inaugurations  Search this
Inauguration Day  Search this
Inaugural events  Search this
Presidents' spouses  Search this
First ladies  Search this
Standard number:
SIA2009-0247 or 81-754-16
Restrictions & Rights:
No restrictions
Data Source:
Smithsonian Archives - History Div
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sic_11966

President Reagan and First Lady Wave to Crowd along Parade Route

Author:
Unknown  Search this
Subject:
Reagan, Nancy 1923-  Search this
Reagan, Ronald  Search this
United States President (1981-1989 : Reagan)  Search this
Physical description:
Number of Images: 1; Color: Black and white; Size: 10w x 8h; Type of Image: Group, candid; Event; Medium: Photographic print
Type:
Event
Photographic print
Group, candid
Place:
United States
Washington (D.C.)
Date:
January 20, 1981
Topic:
Parades  Search this
Security  Search this
Inauguration Day  Search this
Inaugural events  Search this
Automobiles  Search this
Inaugurations  Search this
Transportation  Search this
Crowds  Search this
Presidents' spouses  Search this
Buildings, structures, etc  Search this
Standard number:
SIA2009-0251or 81-738-24A
Restrictions & Rights:
No restrictions
Data Source:
Smithsonian Archives - History Div
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sic_11968

President and Mrs. Reagan at NASM

Author:
Hrabak, Dale  Search this
Subject:
Reagan, Ronald  Search this
Reagan, Nancy 1923-  Search this
Anderson, Dean  Search this
Boyne, Walter J. 1929-  Search this
National Air and Space Museum  Search this
United States President  Search this
Physical description:
Color: Black and White; Size: 10w x 8h; Type of Image: Event; Medium: Photographic print
Type:
Photographic print
Event
Date:
1985
Topic:
Celebrities and Dignitaries  Search this
Galleries  Search this
Presidents' spouses  Search this
Museum directors  Search this
Event  Search this
Standard number:
95-1213
Restrictions & Rights:
No restrictions
Data Source:
Smithsonian Archives - History Div
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sic_8927

Princess Grace Sculpture Presented to NPG

Author:
Hofmeister, Richard K  Search this
Subject:
Grace Princess of Monaco 1929-1982  Search this
Caroline Princess of Monaco 1957-  Search this
Stephanie Princess of Monaco 1965-  Search this
Rainier III Prince of Monaco 1923-  Search this
Albert Prince of Monaco 1958-  Search this
Adams, Robert McCormick 1926-2018  Search this
Reagan, Nancy 1923-  Search this
National Portrait Gallery (U.S.)  Search this
Physical description:
Color: Black and White; Size: 10w x 8h; Type of Image: Event; Medium: Photographic print
Type:
Photographic print
Date:
1986
Topic:
Gifts  Search this
Secretaries  Search this
Celebrities  Search this
Dignitaries  Search this
Royal visitors--Monaco  Search this
Princesses  Search this
Sculpture  Search this
Event  Search this
Standard number:
97-9607
Restrictions & Rights:
No restrictions
Data Source:
Smithsonian Archives - History Div
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sic_9000

The president & Mrs. Reagan : an American love story / photographs by Harry Benson ; with an introduction by Patti Davis ; edited by Gigi Benson

Title:
President and Mrs. Reagan
Author:
Benson, Harry  Search this
Benson, Gigi  Search this
Subject:
Reagan, Ronald  Search this
Reagan, Nancy 1923-  Search this
Physical description:
79 p. : chiefly col. ill. ; 27 cm
Type:
Pictorial works
Place:
United States
Date:
2003
Topic:
Presidents  Search this
Presidents' spouses  Search this
Married people  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_831877

Nancy Reagan : a first lady's style / [essays by Bob Colacello and Kirby Hanson ; edited by Elisa Urbanelli]

Author:
Colacello, Bob  Search this
Hanson, Kirby  Search this
Urbanelli, Elisa  Search this
Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum  Search this
Subject:
Reagan, Nancy 1923- Clothing  Search this
Reagan, Nancy 1923- Clothing  Search this
Physical description:
255 p. : ill. (chiefly col.) ; 29 cm
Type:
Exhibitions
Pictorial works
Biography
Place:
United States
Date:
2007
C2007
20th century
Topic:
Fashion--History  Search this
Presidents' spouses  Search this
Fashion designers  Search this
Call number:
GT615 .N36 2007
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_838177

Nancy Reagan : on the White House stage / James G. Benze, Jr

Author:
Benze, James G  Search this
Subject:
Reagan, Nancy 1923-  Search this
Reagan, Nancy 1923- Marriage  Search this
Physical description:
xi, 216 p. : ill. ; 24 cm
Type:
Biography
Case studies
Place:
United States
Date:
2005
C2005
Topic:
Presidents' spouses  Search this
Actresses--Political activity  Search this
Acting--Political aspects  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_791110

Reagan, American icon / Robert Metzger

Author:
Metzger, Robert P (Robert Paul) 1937-  Search this
Bucknell University Center Gallery  Search this
Reading Public Museum and Art Gallery (Pa.)  Search this
Humphrey Fine Art (Firm)  Search this
Subject:
Reagan, Ronald Pictorial works  Search this
Reagan, Ronald Career in motion pictures  Search this
Reagan, Ronald Posters  Search this
Reagan, Nancy 1923- Pictorial works  Search this
Reagan, Nancy 1923- Career in motion pictures  Search this
Reagan, Nancy 1923- Posters  Search this
Physical description:
144 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 28 cm
Type:
Books
Exhibitions
Pictorial works
Date:
1989
Call number:
E877.2 .M48 1989
N7628.R28M5 1989
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_649945

Nancy Reagan : the unauthorized biography / Kitty Kelley

Author:
Kelley, Kitty  Search this
Subject:
Reagan, Nancy 1923-  Search this
Physical description:
603 p. : ill. ; 24 cm
Type:
Biography
Place:
United States
Date:
1991
C1991
Topic:
Presidents' spouses  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_522884

The search for the real Nancy Reagan / Frances Spatz Leighton

Author:
Leighton, Frances Spatz  Search this
Subject:
Reagan, Nancy 1923-  Search this
Reagan, Ronald Family  Search this
Physical description:
xvii, 406 p., [16] p. of plates : ill. ; 24 cm
Type:
Biography
Place:
United States
Date:
1987
C1987
Topic:
Presidents' spouses  Search this
Call number:
E878.R43L45 1987X
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_349952

Nancy Reagan Gives Gown to NMAH

Subject:
Reagan, Nancy 1923-  Search this
First Ladies Hall  Search this
National Museum of American History (U.S.) (NMAH)  Search this
Place:
United States
Date:
November 4, 1981
Topic:
Dignitaries  Search this
Gifts  Search this
Presidents' spouses  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Archives - History Div
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sic_1927

President and Mrs. Reagan Come to NASM

Subject:
Reagan, Nancy 1923-  Search this
Reagan, Ronald  Search this
National Air and Space Museum  Search this
United States President  Search this
Place:
United States
Date:
June 19, 1985
Topic:
Celebrities  Search this
Motion pictures  Search this
Presidents' spouses  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Archives - History Div
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sic_2104

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