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Walter Knoll

Oasis of well-being with the Walter Knoll Oki side table, Bundle Sofa & Isanka basket alonsside the Yungiyungi carpet from the Legends of Carpets series with matching carpet cushions

View and buy Walter Knoll furniture

The Walter Knoll brand has stood for innovative, modern furniture design made in Germany for almost 100 years. Based in Herrenberg with a production site in Mötzingen, both in Baden-Württemberg, Walter Knoll has established itself internationally as a manufacturer in the high-end segment. Innovative technologies as well as traditional craftsmanship are used in production and every Walter Knoll piece of furniture is individually manufactured and checked by numerous specialists; this also applies to the selection and processing of the respective materials as well as the production of upholstery and seams. Peruse Walter Knoll's collection of furniture tailored to an international lifestyle in the smow online shop, and find your new favourite.

Walter Knoll's Headquarters in Herrenberg

Walter Knoll's factory in Herrenberg

Experience the high quality of Walter Knoll furniture in all its facets in your local smow store. Lounge and sit on selected Walter Knoll furniture objects and discover the numerous options over a coffee with our team. And if require visits to the transparent Walter Knoll Manufactory in Herrenberg near Stuttgart can be arranged.

Visit the Walter Knoll Showroom in Herrenberg near Stuttgart

Walter Knoll living room and lounge furniture in the smow online shop

Whether living, working or public space - Walter Knoll's portfolio includes designer furniture for all areas by designers such as Claudio Bellini, EOOS, Daï Sugasawa and Norman Foster.

A particular focus of Walter Knoll is upholstered furniture for not just the home, but which can also be employed in civic, commercial and hospitality areas. As a representative of the Walter Knoll Classic Edition, the armchair 369 Armchair by the Walter Knoll Team, for example, enriches any living room or entrance area with a simple elegance and helps underscore how timeless and high-quality Walter Knoll furniture is. With excellent workmanship, high-quality materials, balanced proportions and functional details, the Muud sofa by EOOS also embodies the artistry and excellence of furniture production at Walter Knoll.

369 armchair by the Walter Knoll Team

Walter Knoll also produces chairs, office furniture, side tables, sofas and a wide variety of accessories. Chairs by Walter Knoll can be used in particular as dining room chairs, but are also designed for work contexts, as ably demonstrated by, for example, the FK Chair from 1969.

Home accessories from Walter Knoll, such as the Isanka storage basket, set particularly elegant accents in the interior. As do the Walter Knoll carpets and cushions by artist and designer Helmut Scheufele, is an expert in textiles, colours and design.

Vostra Wood chairs by Walter Knoll

Isanka Korb from Walter Knoll

The Cuoio lounge chair invites you to relax

Muud Sofa by EOOS

The biography of the Walter Knoll furniture company

The Knoll family tree

Beginnings in his father's business
Walter Knoll was born in Stuttgart in 1878 as the son of the upholstered furniture manufacturer Wilhelm Knoll. After a few years in the military and as an employee in his father's business, he established his own business, unsuccessfully so, and subsequently fled to the USA to escape creditors. In 1907 he returned to his homeland where he took over his father's leather business together with his brother Willy.

What is the difference between Walter Knoll and Knoll International?
Walter Knoll's first-born son Robert would later take over his father's business, while his second son, Hans Knoll, emigrated to the USA in 1938 where together with his wife Florence Knoll he established Knoll Associates, from which the company Knoll International arose after the War as the European arm of Knoll Associates. Thus Walter Knoll and Knoll International are two independent furniture brands with a common heritage.

At the end of the 1920s, Willy Knoll helped revolutionise traditional upholstery technology with his “Antimott” system

In 1949, the Vostra armchair conveyed a spirit of new beginnings and brought Walter Knoll international recognition

Walter Knoll - contemporary furniture brand
After years in Vienna and New York, Walter Knoll returned to Stuttgart and founded the company Walter Knoll & Co. GmbH in 1925, a company that was to develop into one of the most successful and trend-setting furniture manufacturers in the following decades.

Through his contact with Bauhaus founders such as Walter Gropius, Walter Knoll was the first manufacturer to specialize in the series production of Bauhaus furniture. In addition, the Walter Knoll furnished some Mies van der Rohe's apartments at the 1927 Weißenhofsiedlung building exhibition.

Vostra armchair in a student residence in Hamburg, 1953

In 1964, Walter Knoll left the company and handed management over to his son Robert Knoll and Dr. Walter Combe. From 1982 Michael Knoll and Stephan Combe managed the company and finally merged it with Wilhelm Knoll. Finally, in 1993, the family business passed to the Benz furniture family and has been managed by Markus Benz ever since.

Walter Knoll remained the managing director of his company until 1964 and died in 1971 – he was not to live to see Tegel Airport equipped by the company he founded in 1975. In 1993, Rolf Benz took over the now internationally renowned design company, which continues to grow steadily.

The Knoll furniture dynasty at a glance

In 1865, Wilhelm Knoll, the forefather of the Knoll dynasty, founded his leather business in Stuttgart.

Wilhelm Knoll's leather shop in Stuttgart
The history of the furniture company Knoll dates back to 1865, when Wilhelm Knoll (1839-1907) founded his leather business in Stuttgart. In the years that followed, “Knoll leather” developed into a trademark of the Württemberg dynasty.

Walter and Willy take over their father's company
In 1906, the leather shop finally became the leather seating furniture factory Wilhelm Knoll, managed by the two sons Willy and Walter Knoll.

Walter's son Hans founds Knoll International in the USA
At the end of the 1930s, Hans Knoll, Walter Knoll's eldest son, went to the USA where he set up his own business together with his wife Florence Knoll. Today's American furniture manufacturer Knoll International emerged from this company foundation.

Walter Knoll founds his own company, Wilhelm Knoll remains in existence
At the age of 50, Walter Knoll founded his own company, Walter Knoll & Co GmbH. After the death of his father, Wilhelm Knoll's business was taken over by his son Dieter Knoll, who then founded the company called Dieter Knoll in Austria.

Walter Knoll headquarters and showroom

A passion for handcraft made in Germany: Interview with Walter Knoll CEO Markus Benz

In many companies the senior figures are largely absent in daily office life, the employees seeing them alone in context of a Christmas speech or other formal, corporate, engagement. At Walter Knoll things are a little different: CEO Markus Benz preferring to spend his time in the offices of the company headquarters, talking to the team, rather sitting isolated in his private office.

Therefore it was only logical that smow met Markus Benz in the Walter Knoll showroom in Herrenberg - in the heart of Walter Knoll, above the Gläsernen Manufaktur where through the glass walls you can watch the precise handcrafting of Walter Knoll products.

For 30 years now Walter Knoll has been, as Benz himself puts it, his life, and that with an unabated passion passion, as becomes evidently clear in conversation.

Markus Benz in conversation with smow in the Walter Knoll showroom

smow: Mister Benz, starting at the beginning, what brought you to Walter Knoll?

Markus Benz: Probably fate. I was born into a furniture company, that of my father Rolf Benz, and so was naturally always interested in furniture. As a family we no longer held the majority in Rolf Benz and my father saw the purchase of Walter Knoll as an opportunity to regain more entrepreneurial freedom.

smow: So was it always clear to you that you would go into the furniture industry and take over Walter Knoll?

Markus Benz: No, not at all. I actually studied law and am a qualified and licensed lawyer, a completely different career lay before me. But at some point I decided to take on the family's legacy. I initially worked at Wilkhahn for three years, and then I started at Walter Knoll on October 1st 1993. 30 years ago.

smow: Walter Knoll is a family business, your daughter joined as CIO in 2023. Is it a balancing act for you to combine tradition with progress?

Markus Benz: Quite the opposite. Children grew up under contemporary conditions and I for one am happy that fresh energy is being supplied by the next generation and, to be honest, it inspires me.

smow: Can one talk of a generational change?

Markus Benz: It is the start of a generational change, we still have a bit of time and we can now shape this transition period together.

smow: What differentiates Walter Knoll from other manufacturers?

Markus Benz: I think the difference lies in the intensive work on the products. We often need two to five years to develop the products, and they also follow certain principles and rules. Nevertheless, there must always be innovation behind them: we want to add something new to a category with every product, it shouldn't just be another chair or another table, but always something special of its kind.

smow: Principles and rules such as...?

Markus Benz: I am particularly interested in the archaic, in what drives people and what guides them? I have visited many native tribes all over the world, in North America, South America, Australia, New Zealand, Africa. We here no longer really notice what really drives us because everything is shrouded by cultural detritus. With native tribes you can see that craftsmanship is always a factor - and the admiration of things created by human hands. Sensuality and a sense of beauty also play a major role. People always create special things with their hands - whether it's decorating everyday objects, jewellery or designing buildings and rooms.

And on the other hand it is always about certain materials. Every culture has materials that it admires, and yet we recognise the beauty of this material across cultures, whether it is a stone, a shell, a piece of wood or gold. It is about rational lines, and the clear relation of the rational lines creates emotion. Capriciousnesses isn't an option.

smow: Is sustainability also important to you?

Markus Benz: There is a very simple saying: Everything we do must remain meaningful in the future. If we always thought like that, we would be more responsible with inventions. I think it's very simple, like the Native Tribes of the world: You were given something, you should pass it on and behave honourably in-between.

smow: What does that mean when working with designers?

Markus Benz: If you work at the highest level then you have to use the specialists and work with them, that's a necessity, the secret is ensuring that the team who is responsible for the project works very well together. The hardest thing is always establishing communication with new designers, it often takes several years until the depth that Walter Knoll needs is achieved. And we start where others stop.

smow: Is your home completely furnished in Walter Knoll? Or do you also allow other brands?

Markus Benz: There are a few third-party brands. For example, I still have a Wilkhahn armchair at home because I worked for Wilkhahn, those were my first commercial successes and a chair such as the 220 is still an incredibly beautiful product for me today, one that I feel connected to. But my favourite products are from Walter Knoll (laughs).

smow: Do you have a particular favourite product?

Markus Benz: It's like a mother with lots of children: they are all her favourites. And that's how I actually want to look at it. There may be style preferences that you have for yourself, but I have almost all the products in my immediate or wider environment and live with them every day. After 30 years I can say that I have products around me that belong to me and suit me. And every product is a part of me.

smow: What does Walter Knoll mean to you personally?

Markus Benz: Walter Knoll is my life. To spend 30 years carving the same piece of wood and then say it's not part of you, that would be a pretty sad thing. I'm happy every day that new people are discovering us and recognising the quality of our work. It is also always important to me that we are not just a brand for end consumers, but also the brand for professionals. That's why I'm particularly pleased and satisfied that Walter Knoll has now become a strong architects' brand.

smow Shorts with Markus Benz:

smow: Your last museum visit?

Markus Benz: Last night. Staatsgalerie. I have been a friend of the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart for seven years.

smow: Do you prefer Bauhaus or Scandinavian design?

Markus Benz: Both are expressions of Modernism and both philosophies have proven to be long-lasting and sustainable. Bauhaus was perhaps a bit more technical because they actually wanted to make series products for the masses, which never worked. But something completely different came out of it, namely a design language that has been valid for over 100 years. Scandinavian design is strongly linked to wood, but also stands for the combination of leather and steel, when I think of Kjærholm and his successors, for example. I think that they are simply different expressions of a time that we now consider Modern.

smow: Northern Germany or southern Germany?

Markus Benz: The south has more opportunities if you draw a radius of 200 or 300 kilometres. In that respect, I say southern Germany.

smow: Thank you very much for the stimulating conversation Herr Benz!

Markus Benz: My pleasure. I hope we've ignited something.

smow: We're all fired up!

More about 'Walter Knoll' in our blog

The Historia Supellexalis: “K” for Knoll

Knoll A Wilhelm; A Walter; A Willy; A Hans; A Florence; A Lineage Although research into its ancestry is still very much ongoing, the wild Knoll, Knoll furniturus, is popularly believed to have originated in the region of the contemporary Stuttgart; what is...

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