Getting to Knoll Us

If you’re like us and frequently find yourself adjusting the angles of objects–making your knife parallel to your placemat, or grouping similar objects on your desk–chances are you’re knolling and don’t even know it.

Knolling is the process of grouping like objects and arranging them in parallel or 90 degree angles.

And we do a lot of that around here.

According to Wikipedia,

“The term was first used in 1987 by Andrew Kromelow, a janitor at Frank Gehry’s furniture fabrication shop. At the time, Gehry was designing chairs for Knoll, a company famously known for Florence Knoll’s angular furniture. Andrew Kromelow would arrange any displaced tools at right angles on all surfaces, and called this routine knolling, in that the tools were arranged in right angles—similar to Knoll furniture. The result was an organized surface that allowed the user to see all objects at once.”

Pair of lounge chairs (model no. 65) Knoll, designed 1950

Now, it is most popularly used by the American sculptor Tom Sachs, who picked up the term while working as a fabricator at Gehry’s studio. Not only does knolling appear throughout his body of work, but it is also a tenet of organization in his studio.

A page from Tom Sachs’ “Ten Bullets”

While we may not take our knolling as seriously as Sachs does, it’s certainly  happening all around us–from minor adjustments to the stapler, to a sort of conservator’s mise-en-place before beginning a treatment. Here are some examples of knolling around the studio here at ZAC.

old knolled irons

preparing to examine new work

knolling in the office (Jeana’s desk)

knolled rolls (of paper)

magnets in the photo studio

happily knolled brushes

So, the next time you find yourself compulsively tweaking the objects in your surroundings, take comfort in knowing there’s a name for it.

For more knoll-spiration, check out Things Organized Neatly, a blog dedicated entirely to the art of knolling.