Florence Knoll revolutionized the world of post-war office interiors. She founded the in-house interior design studio, Knoll Planning Unit, in 1945; and the KnollTextiles division in 1947. A designer of several Knoll classic furniture pieces and showrooms, she also directed the Furniture Design Development department. Upon Hans Knoll’s death in 1955, she assumed the role of president, a position she held until her retirement in 1965. It was through the Planning Unit that Knoll not only designed the interiors for the company’s growing number of showrooms, but also the corporate offices of some of the largest American companies, including IBM, GM, CBS, and Seagram’s.
One of Knoll Bassett’s many roles was in acquiring licenses to manufacture furniture by other designers. Modern-day classics like the Diamond Chair, Barcelona Chair, and Cyclone Table were designs brought in by Knoll Bassett. By that time, Knoll Bassett had set up a system of issuing pieces by individual designers—many of them her friends or former teachers, such as Mies van der Rohe, Breuer, Bertoia, and Isamu Noguchi—visibly crediting them and issuing royalties for each. As a business practice it was then-uncommon, but established a level of respect for designers in what has now become the industry norm for many high-end furniture companies. As a designer herself, she created over 100 furniture designs for Knoll, forming nearly half of its entire product line.