Our History

Walter Knoll – the furniture brand of modernity.

Business in the Wilheminian Period



Wilhelm Knoll, the founder of the Knoll dynasty, opens the doors of his “leather shop” in Stuttgart, Germany. Widely travelled expert in leather: in 1864, annual stay in Paris – the world centre of leather, fashion and luxury goods.

“Knoll leather” becomes the hallmark of quality, and the House of Württemberg names Wilhelm Knoll „supplier to the royal court“.



Electric teleprinter is invented. The first transatlantic cable is put into operation.TV is invented. The first transatlantic cable is put into operation.


The leather furnishings factory (Ledermöbelfabrik) becomes the leather seating factory (Ledersitzmöbelfabrik Wilhelm Knoll).


In 1907, Wilhelm’s sons Willy and Walter take over their father’s business and start producing seating. The company introduces the first club armchair to Germany.

„Top of the class.“ Willy Knoll (1878 – 1954).


„The active one.“ Walter Knoll (1876 – 1971).



Walter Gropius founds the Bauhaus in Weimar.

Advocating Modernity

1925 - 1929

Advocating modernity: at the age of 50, the urbane gentleman Walter Knoll founds his own company, Walter Knoll & Co. GmbH. The “Prodomo“ models developed by Walter Knoll are seen as the first modern upholstered furniture in history.

“The psychology of seating”

the lightweight Prodomo armchairs perfectly reflect the spirit of the times of the twenties.

The world‘s first wide-bodied aircraft Do X is completely furnished with lightweight aluminium chairs from the Prodomo range.

At the same time, Wilhelm Knoll revolutionises the traditional upholstery technique with his “Antimott“ range.

Lounge at the Hindenburg airship.


The lightweight aluminium armchairs from the Antimott range are used to furnish the zeppelins.

The exhibition„Die Wohnung“ (The Apartment) under the direction of Mies van der Rohe 1927 at the Weissenhof Estate in Stuttgart sets standards for modern building and living all over the world.

Walter Knoll furnishes five apartments by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and nine apartments in total at the Weissenhof Estate.


Being equipped with the knowledge of the Bauhaus movement and the abilities of his family, Walter Knoll´s son Hans goes to the US in 1938 – in the beginning to sell the products of his father. In America, he meets the architects of modernity and opens his own business in 1939.

Hans Knoll (1914 – 1955), Florence Knoll (1917 – 2019)


New direction in the post-war era


While Germany is still accustomed to classic furnishings after 1945, Walter Knoll is presenting a modern way of life. Hans Knoll supports his father in this time of reconstruction with the “Vostra“ model.



IBM makes the first mainframe computer.



Founding of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Konrad Adenauer becomes Chancellor.


In 1949, the upholstered version of the armchair: the clean lines of Vostra perfectly reflect people’s attitudes in this time of awakening, and help Walter Knoll to regain international recognition.

Student hall of residence in Hamburg, in 1953, with Vostra armchairs.



The establishing of the HFG College of Design in Ulm. Foundation of the Design Council (Rat für Formgebung).



Bundesrat (Upper House of Parliament) passes a bill on the equality of men and women.



Building of the Berlin Wall.



Extension of the Walter Knoll company premises in Herrenberg.



Frei Otto designs the tent-like roof construction



Moon landing; Neil Armstrong (USA) is the first man on the moon.

Office and contract


The Contract division is established in the seventies. Elegant executive offices, comfortable swivel chairs, fine conference facilities as well as elegant sofas for foyers and lobbies account for the success in furnishing business premises.

The furnishing of Berlin‘s Tegel Airport in 1975 is without doubt one of the highlights of the company‘s history. Together with architect Meinhard von Gerkan, the Berlin Chair is created for the airport‘s VIP lounge.


First commercial mobile phone is launched onto the market (Motorola).

True values


German reunification.



Founding of the European Union (EU).



Walter Knoll takes over the company Wilhelm Knoll and continues to sell the products as the “Wilhelm Knoll Collection”.


The famous furnishing family Benz buys the Walter Knoll company. Markus Benz, the oldest son, has been running the business ever since with the experience of excellent upholstery craftsmanship and modern corporate culture.


Growth. Additional production site in Mötzingen, near Herrenberg.


Introduction of the Euro.



In Germany Angela Merkel, the first woman is elected Federal Chancellor.



Inauguration of the multifunctional building in Herrenberg.


Walter Knoll founds subsidiary company „Walter Knoll Australia“.

Walter Knoll receives the Design Management Europe Award for their successful design management.



Apple introduces the first generation of the iPhone.



The crash of the American bank Lehman Brothers marks the beginning of the global financial and economic crisis.


Opening of Walter Knoll showrooms in London.


Growth. Inauguration of the new multifunctional building for assembly, production and logistics in Mötzingen.


Walter Knoll celebrates its 150th anniversary.


Opening of Walter Knoll Brand Space in Düsseldorf


Publication of the book "Walter Knoll The Furniture Brand of Modernity"


Walter Knoll on tour: roadshow across Europe


Walter Knoll exhibits for the first time during Milan Design Week in a temporary showroom in Brera Design District.


The next generation at Walter Knoll: Mara Benz, daughter of Walter Knoll CEO Markus Benz, has joined the management team as Chief Information Officer (CIO).