Works from the Estate of Sue Kohler

Sue Kohler lived a life devoted to art, architecture and design. Born in Grand Rapids, educated at the University of Michigan with advanced degrees in art history, Sue met her husband, the architect Carl R. Kohler, at Cranbrook where she had landed her first curatorial position at the Museum of the Cranbrook Academy of Art. They married in 1953, traveled extensively for his position at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, and eventually settled in Washington, DC in 1959. 

Raising three children, Lisa, Peter and Eric, in their Georgetown row house, the Kohlers amassed an eclectic collection of midcentury modern furniture, architectural fragments and antiques. In 1974, Sue began a 35-year career as Chief Historian for the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, ultimately retiring at the age of 80. During her tenure at the Commission, she co-authored many books on Washington DC architecture and planning, including Designing The Nation’s Capital: The 1901 Plan for Washington, DC.

The present lot is drawn from the Estate of Sue Kohler, and reflects her lifelong passion for studying and collecting American design.

Florence Knoll 1917–2019

Florence Knoll (née Florence Schust) was born in Michigan in 1917. As a child, she was enrolled in the Kingswood School, a division of the Cranbrook School of Art. Eliel and Loja Saarinen, parents of architect Eero Saarinen, quickly noted her talents, and she became a close friend of the family often joining them on vacations to their summer home in Finland. In 1935, Knoll studied urban planning at Columbia University and continued her degree at the Architectural Association of London from 1938 to 1939. World War II brought Knoll back to the United States where she finished her degree in architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago studying under Mies van der Rohe. After graduating, Knoll moved to Massachusetts to work in the office of Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer.

Learn More

Auction Results Florence Knoll