Florence (Marguerite)(Schust) Knoll may have been deemed an American designer (born in Saginaw Michigan, 1917) but she most definitely has had many roots in long-term international influences. First to mention, her father was born a few borders away, and spoke German as his first language. Apparent to me, her international genes began right there with her in the womb. Around 1935, being fresh in her learning career, she had studied under Eliel Sarrinen, a Finnish architect, known for his work in the early 20th century.
She then was privileged to work with the son of this great architect, by the name of Eero (Saarinen). According to "The Architect Designer with the Stainless Steel Legs", Florence herself states,"The Saarinens befriended me and took me under their wing. They asked my guardian for permission to accompany them to Hvitrask, their home in Finland for the summer...One Summer Eero decided to give me a course in architectural history he talked and drew these sketches simultaneously on sheets of stationary beginning with Greek, Roman and Byzantine periods. He discussed each detail as the drawings appeared on the paper."
What an exciting time for this growing artist in her field of design!
When 1935 rolled around, Miss Schust attending school in London where she was influenced by LeCorbusier, who already had an international style of his own well along being developed. However, World War II forced her to move back to the States, where she was there influenced by other designers who were then becoming famous for their steel-tube modern furniture. She eventually had the unique privilege to hone her decor skills under Mies van der Rohe. The same reference quoted earlier states Florence as saying, "Mies van der Rohe had a profound effect on my design approach and the clarification of design." Later in her career, Mies gave his 'Barcelona Chair' (and ottoman) rights so she could continue to produce this style. Classic.
She married Hans Knoll, Knoll furniture has been around for decades. After his death, she married a gentleman by the famous furniture name of Bassett.
Even with being uber famous, Florence Knoll Bassett has turned down many many honors in her name. But, in 2002, the industry managed to sneak in awarding her the National Medal of Arts. I am impressed with her because even though she had multiple influences from around the world she seemed very down to earth and was from this local mid-west area!! That is something we all can relate to.
References "The Architect Designer with the Stainless Steel Legs" About.com