the planning unit
Florence Knoll died in January, 2019 at the age of 101. You may not know her name but she changed the way we live and work. She collected and created a team of individuals of specific talents, weavers, artists, architects, factory’s and designers who created the modern system of living. Under her direction this was the Planning Unit at Knoll Textiles. Virginia Lee Warren wrote in The New York Times in 1964, Florence Knoll was the “single most-powerful figure in the field of modern design”. Bob Longwell, manager of the quality control at the East Greenville plant said “She had the greatest design eye of anybody in the business…She was…” he paused, “she was something else.” * She is my hero.
As an upholsters daughter, fabric swatch books were glorious colorful, patterned toys. As a factory worker, I was entranced by simple machines that did one thing over and over. As a designer, I match color, fabric and form. As a human, I am driven to match things up; putting people and things together to make bigger things happen. As an artist, my work is about systems. The objects in “the planning unit” are made by rolling steel, welding shapes, finding letterpress type of discarded diagrams and notations, copying/drawing diagrams from vintage International Correspondence School booklets, adhering the paper to fabric with a printing press, making fabric buttons, adding scraps and objects, then stretching and hand sewing the panels on to frames.
(yes, I now own a vintage button maker)
My previous work has tackled domestic violence and fracking. Currently, I am researching and making art about the intersection of religion, architecture, philosophy, economics and systems of incarceration. As content for art, this research is difficult, disturbing and exhausting. “the planning unit” has been a glorious place to rest from the horrors of the daily news and my research, a place to organize and play. Many visitors to my temporary studio, with its rows, piles, tools and stations asked/stated “this must be what the inside of your brain looks like”. I can say yes, except it is also constantly spinning, spinning, spinning, trying to put it all together in a clean and beautiful fashion.
* Peggy Deamer, Pioneering Women of American Architecture, Yale School of Architecture