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Office design innovator Florence Knoll Bassett has died aged 101. The pioneering architect is credited with being a major influence behind much of today’s office design. Bassett’s “total design” concepts are still very much an influence today – straight edge design for desks and office furniture were very much a staple of the simple aesthetic that she helped to implement. Bassett is also widely regarded as one of the innovators of today’s open-plan offices. Preferring open spaces and clean lines – the hallmarks of many of today’s office environments – Bassett’s concepts have stood the test of time.

More Than Just Offices

Though Bassett was most widely regarded for her contribution to office design, she was also known to have designed buildings. Bassett also ran Knoll International, a furniture and design company that is well regarded in the industry. Her innovative and forward-thinking designs also helped to clear away many traditional office design ideas such as clunky thick desks and heavy drapery. Her aim was to apply architectural principles to the inside of building rather than the outside. She was often quoted as saying: “I am not a decorator” – Indeed she was not. Bassett has left an indelible mark on our industry and we owe much to the innovation of people like Bassett.

Holistic Approach

One thing that stands out in the various obituaries of Bassett’s life is her holistic approach. Her approach included interviewing staff as well as bosses to help guide her design, this was relatively unheard of at the time. This approach meant that the people who use the office, the staff, helped her to understand what was required. This is also a large part of how we view design.

Bassett, once she knew exactly what was required, would make highly detailed cardboard mock ups of the design in order to show exactly what the final result would be. This is not just a standard prototype, every detail down to the exact paint colour and fabric samples would be used to display an incredibly lifelike model of the final result. This is extremely forward thinking and shows a level of mastery that was unsurpassable. Prototyping is now common practice (with the use of Computer Aided Design), but in Bassett’s day, this would have been almost unheard of.

Impressive Clients

Of course when you are at the top of your field like Bassett was, big clients were going to come calling. Bassett worked on the offices of some of America’s biggest institutions such as General Motors, IBM & the Heinz headquarters in Pittsburgh. Her final project, in 1965, was the interior of the CBS headquarters in New York. In this final project, she designed everything from the desks to the door handles. This notable project allowed her to bow out at the top of her game and leave a lasting legacy that can still be felt today.

A Lasting Legacy

As well as leaving behind her design legacy, Bassett also left behind the Knoll company, a venture that was started by her late husband Hans. She joined the business in 1943 and they married in 1946. After Hans was killed in a car accident in 1955, Florence took control of the business that still exists today. Having sold the business in 1959, Bassett stayed on with the business until she retired in 1965.

Florence Knoll Bassett’s contribution to office design was huge and she left behind many principles that remain today. Here at Spaceway, we certainly use much of the Bassett template in our design approach. Her overall approach to design and innovation is a guiding principle for many in the industry – and it certainly is for us.

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Paul Callus

Plastimo UK Limited

We are delighted with the finished product. The space has been turned into an exceptional working environment, which will serve us well for years to come

A J Wells

Another project well done by Spaceway. As before, we're very pleased with everything from concept through to completion.

Richard De Crausaz

Cookson Electronics

Spaceway worked with us to create the perfect environment for our staff. The completed project was fantastic and utilised the space to provide  practical, modern and attractive working surroundings.


The project was challenging to say the least with the removal of 280 workstations and fitting of 400 new ones, along with collaboration areas and 400 bespoke lockers over two weekends, but Spaceway managed to complete this along with office refurbishment works on time and to an excellent standard.

Greg Bedford


It’s no good having just an empty industrial building you need a concept for space, a design, an infrastructure and someone to build it. Designing something like this from scratch with someone who’s willing to invest in your ideas, Spaceway is your perfect partner.

Nick Aikenhead


"I’m very pleased how they’ve gone through it all and actioned it and they’ve got good depth of resource, good depth of people, and good skilled people who work well and tightly and good communication. So I’m delighted."

Redmayne Engineering

We were delighted with the service from Spaceway.

Stone Bridge United

We're very impressed with the Spaceway team and the whole project was installed without fault. We are looking forward to working with the team again.

Mark Rowe

Glenmore Consultants

The office fit out is superbly finished to the highest standards and beyond our expectations.

Alan Fisher

Car Link

“I was so happy I did not get bothered throughout the extensive works and that a strict timetable was completed flawlessly. Fantastic experience all round.”


Thank you to Spaceway for the improvements that have been made to move Bodywise forward. You've done a very good job and we look forward to working with you again.


The project was designed to meet our specific requirements which included fitting in 20 more additional workstations using the existing space. The design works well and has met our expectations fully, we will continue to use Spaceway, they do a good job.

Lydiard Park Academy

Our project was finished on time and to budget in what was a very short timescale, which is a credit to the team at Spaceway!
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