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.
Wilhelm Knoll (1839 – 1907)
“Knoll leather” becomes the hallmark of quality, and the House of Württemberg names Wilhelm Knoll „supplier to the royal court“.
1866 TV is invented. The first transatlantic cable is put into operation.
The leather furnishings factory (Ledermöbelfabrik) becomes the leather seating factory (Ledersitzmöbelfabrik Wilhelm Knoll).
1906 Peter Behrens is responsible for the architecture and corporate identity of AEG.
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).
Stuttgart - centre of the avant-garde: „Kunstgewerbeschule“ (School of Applied Arts) under the direction of Bernhard Pankok.
His „Württembergisches Zimmer“ (Room of Württemberg) is one of the highlights of the World Exhibition 1904 in St. Louis, USA.
Stuttgart - centre of the avant-garde: Oskar Schlemmer and his „Triadic Ballet“.
Nestra models on a woodenframe basis go into series production.
1919 Walter Gropius founds the Bauhaus in Weimar.
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.
The lightweight aluminium armchairs from the Antimott range are used to furnish the zeppelins.
Lounge at the Hindenburg airship.
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.
In 1937, the flourishing company Walter Knoll moves to Herrenberg.
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).
Expansion comes to a standstill at Walter and Wilhelm Knoll. Production has to concentrate on manufacturing articles important for the war.
1939 Start of the Second World War. The German economy has to take second place to the war effort.
Serious bomb damage causes the Walter Knoll production to be closed. The company faces a new start.
Serious war damage at Wilhelm Knoll too. Production is also restarted in Stuttgart with the help of Dieter Knoll, Willy’s son.
Father with sons:
Walter with Robert and Hans at 1947.
1945 End of the war.
Robert Knoll becomes a partner at Walter Knoll.
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.
1948 IBM makes the first mainframe computer.
1949 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 bucket seat 369 at the Hilton Hotel in Berlin – still one of today‘s modern classics.
The Furniture Fair in Cologne is the breakthrough for furniture by Wilhelm Knoll.
Dieter Knoll takes over the running of the company Wilhelm Knoll after the death of his father, Willy.
1953 The establishing of the HFG College of Design in Ulm. Foundation of the Design Council (Rat für Formgebung).
1957 Bundesrat (Upper House of Parliament) passes a bill on the equality of men and women.
1961 Building of the Berlin Wall.
Dieter Knoll founds the company “Dieter Knoll” in Austria.
Extension of the Walter Knoll company premises in Herrenberg.
Walter Knoll retires. The company is handed over to Robert Knoll and Dr. Walter Combe.
1968 Frei Otto designs the tent-like roof construction for the Olympic Stadium in Munich.
1969 Moon landing; Neil Armstrong (USA) is the first man on the moon.
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.
Stephan Combe and Michael Knoll become Managing Director of Walter Knoll.
1983 First commercial mobile phone is launched onto the market (Motorola).
1984 Discovery of the AIDS virus.
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.
1990 German reunification.
1990 The negotiated 35-hour week is introduced in Baden-Württemberg.
1992 Herrenberg is connected to the Stuttgart suburban train network (S-Bahn).
1993 Founding of the European Union (EU).
Growth. Additional production site in Mötzingen, near Herrenberg.
2002 Introduction of the Euro.
2003 The last Volkswagen Beetle is manufactured in Puebla/Mexico.
2005 In Germany, 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.
2007 Apple introduces the first generation of the iPhone.
Opening of Walter Knoll showrooms in London and Paris.
2008 The crash of the American bank Lehman Brothers marks the beginning of the global financial and economic crisis.
Inauguration of the new multifunctional building for assembly, production and logistics in Mötzingen.
2010 Apple introduces the first generation of the iPad.
Walter Knoll celebrates its 150th anniversary.