Five couches inspired by the 67-year-old classic Florence Knoll sofa

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The rectilinear design of the Florence Knoll couch has endured for decades.

Knoll/Supplied

The rectilinear design of the Florence Knoll couch has endured for decades.

The sophisticated Florence Knoll sofa is still in demand and bears the name of an extraordinary woman.

A natural designer who flourished despite tragic life circumstances, Florence Knoll’s impact on American modernism and interior design in general has been described as “immeasurable.”

Born in 1917, Knoll set up a design house that changed the way the world thinks about style at a time when most women weren’t able to chart their own careers. Eliel Saarinen, Eero Saarinen, Alvar Aalto, Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Pierre Jeanneret, and Hans Bellmann are just some of the famous names she studied under, worked with or employed to create for her design studio.

Florence Knoll and Eero Saarinen.

Knoll and Studio Italia

Florence Knoll and Eero Saarinen.

An orphan from humble beginnings, Knoll went on to become a designer, architect and company president. Her furniture designs live on today in production by Knoll, the firm she established and made successful with her first husband Hans Knoll.

Grounded in the modernist principle that “form follows function” and drawing on her background in architecture, Knoll approached furniture design with practicality in mind. Her calling card, the Lounge collection, produced in 1954 and consisting of the Florence Knoll sofa and chairs, was intended as the fundamental furniture for office environments that she simply couldn’t find anywhere else.

The combination of clean lines, an elegant form and durable materials made for an instant hit, quite by accident. “ ‘Meat and potatoes’ were how these creations were ironically defined by Florence herself,” says Joanna Hoeft, Sales and Design Manager at Studio Italia. It was “a consumption design, a filler, just like the meat and potatoes consumed in everyday meals.”

Knoll was by all accounts an unpretentious, good-humoured and straightforward person, who was all about the “rational distribution of spaces, materials and colours,” according to Hoeft.

Notably rectilinear in nature from all angles, key details of an original Florence Knoll sofa include an exposed metal frame and legs in heavy-gauge steel with polished chrome finish, an inner frame of solid wood, seat suspension with “no-sag” springs, and the Knoll Studio logo and Knoll’s signature stamped on the base frame.

Five modern dupes for the Florence Knoll couch

BoConcept Osaka corner sofa

Taking the Knoll look around the bend, the Osaka sofa offers crisp mid-century appeal, but in a convenient corner shape.

Nood Bloom 3-seat sofa

This would look right just about anywhere, featuring a tufted back cushion for a classic mid-century look.

Early Settler Stitch 3-seater sofa

Decked out in velvet, the Stitch sofa makes a statement.

Big Save Furniture Lotti lounge suite 3.5 and 2.5 seater

Created with fabric made from recycled plastic bottles, the Lotti lounge suite is an eco-friendly choice with a strong form.

Contempa Libertine 3-seat sofa

This sofa has the same strong Knoll rectilinear form, but a more relaxed vibe.

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