What is a Knoll Sofa?

Woman with hand on hip

A Knoll sofa can refer to two very different sofas. One dates back several centuries and the most likely place a person will see this design is in a museum, a furniture history book, in the home of a classic furniture lover, or offered at an occasional auction house. The other form of Knoll sofa is recognized by many people. Its design is now widely recognized as an emblem of the modern furniture movement.

The earlier Knoll sofa can also be spelled Knole, and this was an unusual piece that had one to two cushions for seats and armrests that were almost the height of a high back. They were slightly set back from the seating space and the arms could occasionally be tied behind the back of the sofa to keep them upright or alternatively they could drop down to provide extra space to stretch out and rest or sleep. Designed in the 17th century, the Knole sofa of this type continues to fascinate people.

Occasionally, you can find Knoles in antique stores or buy a new one. Due to the extra moving parts and low demand, Knole is typically not cheap. However, some people love the style and make them custom-made, which is quite an expensive choice. The vintage seat lover can find the occasional one on auction sites.

Just as the early Knole represents his own take on 17th century fashion, the 20th century Knoll sofa added an indelible and not-so-forgotten visual design to sofa construction. The designer of this sofa is really well known and is Florence Knoll, Winner of the National Medal of Arts in 2002, although recognition is taking a while to come as she designed her sofa in the 1950s.

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The classic Knoll sofa has three side-by-side pillows with lightly padded lining and minimal thin armrests. The sofa, instead of sitting in a luxurious interior that hides its supports, rests on metal legs. In the 1950s and later, the simplicity of the design was highly praised. While it differs from other types of sofa, many can attest that the Knoll sofa was also quite comfortable. For a while, its design was scrapped especially in the last decade or two of the 20th century, but now it has become popular again.

People can buy the real Knoll sofa, but the price can be incredible. The standard design can cost a little over $8,000 US Dollars (USD) depending on your fabric choice. There are versions of the design, however, that can sell for around an eighth of that cost. Ironically, it can be cheaper to buy an antique or custom-made classic Knole than to buy an actual modern Knoll.

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