Mid-Century Art + Design - San Francisco

Prints, Paintings, Furniture, and other Mid-20th Century Artifacts. This blog will update our status and inventory. For questions or comments, please contact us at info@dustymodern.com. Or find us on twitter at @dustymodern. We like talking about this stuff.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Knoll and Knockoffs

I should start by saying that we have no Knoll items in stock right now. I'm just thinking about them. The various 1950's-designed, some still in production, Knoll sofas and club chairs are just beautiful. Simple, iconic, really well-made. They were intended for "contract" (office, essentially) uses, but are perfect in the home as well. They're popular, and often one of the first things a mid-century modern fan is turned on to.

A problem with collecting Knoll, however, is that people over-attribute to the company, and don't realize how many near-copies of the sofas and club chairs exist. There were at least eleven companies making furniture that could easily be mistaken for Knoll, and is often called Knoll by uninformed sellers. Companies like Steelcase made almost exact copies of Knoll furniture. Other companies, like Monarch and Metropolitan, made things clearly informed by the Knoll sensibility.

A brief perusal of some early 1960's design magazines reveals the above companies, plus Woodard, Domore, Albano, Lehigh, JG, Edgewood, Macey Fowler, and Directional, all making things that could easily be mistaken for Knoll. Does this mean you can never be sure? No. Many Knoll items retain original tags, some items by these companies may also be tagged. But if it's important to you that your Knoll chair be Knoll, it makes sense to be careful. Me? I don't care too much - a beautiful, simple chair is a beautiful simple chair. But I certainly don't want to pay Knoll prices for a Steelcase knockoff.