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Responses by Dylan Mulvaney, head of design, Gretel, Leah Kalotay, senior director, marketing communications and David Bright, senior vice president, communications, Knoll

Background: Knoll wanted to launch an annual publication that blurred the lines between a magazine, a lookbook and a catalog. The goal was to illustrate the breadth of Knoll’s expertise in planning and product solutions for the modern workplace by featuring client collaborations, company milestones and designer profiles.

Knoll Works served as an opportunity to showcase our constellation of brands and workplace planning capabilities. The goal of the project was to inform as well as inspire our diverse audiences—workplace clients, designers and Knoll dealer partners—with a broad range of editorial content.

Reasoning: The theme for the flagship 2020 issue was “change.” This informed the publication’s content and design. To bring it to life, we focused on stories and scenarios where new and inspiring thinking was put into practice.

Our goal was to present a vision for spaces where people can do their best work, offering a new perspective on our distinctive brand heritage. We landed on a dynamic, approachable and decidedly contemporary design, specifically in print, that reflects our brand heritage and history of celebrated printed publications.

Challenges: We worked hard on striking the right balance between inspiring designers and informing sellers and dealers. We needed to design a collectable object that was beautiful and useful, and a physical experience that was exciting. Whether flipping through the pages or reading in-depth, Knoll Works had to be something architects and designers would want to keep on their desks and refer to throughout the year.

Prior to designing the publication, we spent valuable time reassessing our brand promise and voice for a new generation of clients and design professionals. The challenge was to stay true to our graphic heritage while evolving our design approach and messaging.

Favorite details: The details we used to visually and physically communicate the theme of “change.” Each type of content has its own look and feel. From the letter from the editor, to the index, short stories, feature stories, product pages, and the Q&As, you feel change as you move throughout the book. On top of that, each feature story has its own custom graphic language. Even the paper stock changes from a heavy white matte for feature stories to thin colored stocks for informational sections.

The typographic rhythm throughout the piece engages the reader in the publication’s theme of “opportunities for change”— from the dynamic cover graphic to client profiles to interviews and product features.

Visual influences: Our editorial design builds on Knoll’s iconic color palette and modernist typography. For Knoll Works, we expanded the brand’s system by broadening the color palette, range of typography and layout logic.

Time constraints: We had both shorter term time constraints and longer term opportunities. We began by working on strategy, tone of voice and design exploration. This led to an adaptable graphic and editorial framework, which lay the foundation for the flagship issue and issues to come.

Specific demands: Having a partner in Gretel, with a broad perspective on developing contemporary marketing communications, made it easier us to develop a solution that reflects how we live and work today.

Anything new: We learned that great print design still matters, and our clients appreciate an editorial approach to learning about Knoll in a broader context.

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