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Woven Images: From the Bauhaus Weaving Workshop to the Knoll Textile Division


In 1938 German émigré Hans Knoll set up Factory No. 1 in New York City, selling Scandinavian-inspired furniture to a small but growing crowd of American architects. By chance, the small-scale furniture manufacturer met an ambitious young architect and the pair joined forces to expand into one of the most successful design companies in American history. The architect's name was Florence Schust, and she would eventually be recognized as one of the most influential figures in postwar American architecture and design. From 1946 to 1965, Florence directed all creative efforts at Knoll Associates, including a Planning Unit and a Textile Division. Her Textile Division in New York operated like a mini-Bauhaus, with architects, weavers, and graphic designers all contributing towards the ultimate goal of producing eye-catching architectural materials for mass production. Textiles were conceptualized not only as materials for use but also as intellectual products of visual currency. Through a close reading of one key textile designed by Eszter Haraszty for a significant, commissioned interiors project and how the textile played dual roles as an architectural material for use and as a graphic communication aid within advertising campaigns, my study re-frames textiles as critical, rather than ancillary, to the reception of modern architecture in postwar America.

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