Embracing the Art of Knolling

A perfectly knolled workspace.

One of the first techniques Q Operators learn about during training is ‘knolling’ — it’s also one of the special touches our clients experience after signing up with Q.

While it may sound foreign, knolling is something you’ve seen countless times over. It’s frequently used in fashion magazines and blogs, but most notably on Instagram accounts everywhere.

Knolling is a way of organizing a space that reduces clutter and creates a clean, visually appealing aesthetic. The practice involves grouping similar objects and placing them at right angles. For the OCD at heart, it’s pure bliss.

The History of Knolling

The term knolling dates back to a furniture studio in California in 1987. Andrew Kromelow was working as a janitor in designer and architect Frank Gehry’s furniture shop. At the time, Gehry was designing chairs for the Knoll company, which is known for its angular furniture.

Inspired by the sharp angles of the designs, Kromelow began arranging Gehry’s tools at 90-degree angles during his regular cleaning sessions. His intention was for Gehry to see all of his materials in a single glance. As you might have already guessed, he called this ‘knolling.’

Pages from Tom Sachs’ studio manual, “Ten Bullets.”

But history wasn’t made yet. Sculptor Tom Sachs worked with Gehry in his studio and picked up Kromelow’s organization practice. It soon became a critical part of his work. He elaborated upon the art of knolling and developed the phrase “Always be Knolling” while teaching his employees about the method.

Always Be Knolling…with a Hashtag and Filter

Since Sachs embraced knolling in the late ’80s, it has become a popular style of displaying and photographing items. The blog “Things Organized Neatly,” which features countless photos of knolled surfaces, published a book of images with a foreward by Tom Sachs in March of this year.

The age of Instagram has brought knolling new attention, sometimes under the name ‘flatlays,’ when items are organized intentionally but not necessarily at the right angels Sachs and Kromelow used. But not to worry — #knolling still produces plenty results of perfectly arranged belongings.

A ‘flatlay’ of shop-able clothing on Instagram.

How Q Learned to Knoll

So how did knolling become an essential part of our cleaning regimen?

Before Q was founded, our CEO and co-founder Dan Teran worked at Artsicle, a digital art gallery and artist discovery platform. At the time, Artsicle’s office was located directly above Tom Sachs’ New York studio.

“While I was at Artsicle, they were building the Mars exhibit that would show at the Armory, and I just loved the work and the energy of the studio. I came across VIII, Always be Knolling, in their Ten Bullets series and the concept of knolling really stuck with me. Since pretty much day one, every new hire at Q watches the video,” said Teran.

Introduced to knolling by being in such close proximity to Sach’s studio, Dan found the clean aesthetic and design a natural fit for Q.

How you left your desk, and how you found it the next morning.

Why We Knoll at Q

To start, for the same reasons Kromelow did — to enable our clients to clearly see all of the items on their desk and create aesthetically pleasing organization. It’s also a symbol of the attention and care we take with each and every one of our client accounts.

We don’t just stock, clean and fix what’s broken in the offices we manage. We help our client offices work more efficiently and productively — and clutter has proven to be a real productivity killer.

Knolling is just one of the many ways we keep offices well-maintained and running smoothly, while also helping you find that pen you thought you lost a week ago.