Since its founding in 1938, American furniture and textile manufacturer Knoll has been at the forefront of every significant design movement. From the 1960s’ Space Age aesthetic to the sleek minimalism of the early 2000s, the company has collaborated with some of the world’s leading designers, including Anni Albers, Eero Saarinen, David Adjaye, and Maya Lin. In addition, Knoll has expanded in recent decades by acquiring up-and-coming brands such as Danish manufacturer Muuto and Chicago institution Holly Hunt. Though the company and its numerous subsidiaries were acquired by former competitor Herman Miller last year to form the Miller Knoll consortium, the company has vowed to maintain its distinct identity based on quality and the enduring impact of Modernist design.
The Architecture Research Office (ARO), a multifaceted firm, has been instrumental in shaping the company’s ever-changing identity. For over a decade, the practice has worked closely with Knoll to develop showroom and office locations in Houston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. These vibrant locations deftly combine immersive retail space with open-plan and private workspaces. When it was first proposed in 2012, the format was innovative in considering the hybrid environment.
The desire to bring home comforts to commercial spaces has become a central tenet of the heritage company’s ongoing rebranding. ARO recently expanded on this model by revisiting the Knoll flagships in New York and Washington, D.C., designed a decade ago and transforming them into spaces that more accurately reflect the retail trend. “Knoll has always pushed us to create spatial coherence within an environment that features a wide variety of furniture and finishes,” says ARO principal Stephen Cassell. “That strong design framework has remained consistent over time as Knoll’s showrooms and offices have evolved to meet changing client preferences.”
Over the last decade, the firm has infused these spaces with cutting-edge acoustic solutions that address the growing demand for privacy while incorporating vivid aesthetic details. ARO-designed sound-absorbing felt products are prominently displayed throughout New York and Washington, D.C. locations. ARO principal Kim Yao continues, “Any space designed for flexibility runs the risk of failing to accomplish anything.” Successful hybrid spaces must transcend the nuances of everyday use, creating an environment that accommodates a diverse range of occupants and needs. Knoll has always placed a premium on fostering a sense of comfort in its clients at the forefront of workplace design. This sensibility has been amplified during the pandemic. “
Knoll’s 7,700-square-foot showroom and office space in Washington, D.C., were strategically located to highlight the brand’s foray into hospitality furnishings. A central focal point is a bar adorned with these new products. The space is entirely street-facing, with large glass doors providing direct access to the surrounding neighbourhood. Drapery from the illustrious KnollTextiles collection assists in the definition of private workspaces and conceals exposed ductwork.
ARO expanded the existing New York flagship by 7,000 square feet, relocating inconvenient ground-floor offices to a dedicated sixth floor better suited for an integrated sales and meeting experience. This new elevated level was created to house various product development teams and includes an executive suite with a private bar. In addition, the ground floor has been completely transformed into an immersive environment.
Returning to our first Knoll project in New York and working on the Washington, D.C. location reaffirmed not only the similarities in our designs but also our overall approach, Cassell concludes. “Both projects advocate a more informal aesthetic in contemporary workplace culture, which we have long advocated for.”
Written By Tannu Sharma | Subscribe To Our Telegram Channel To Get Latest Updates And Don’t Forget To Follow Our Social Media Handles Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn | Twitter. To Get the Latest Updates From Arco Unico