My search for the Knolling begins without my knowing it from images of Todd MacLellan and his book Things Come Apart: A Teardown Manual for Modern Live Those exploded images made me fall in love, and looking for more information about the author I have come to know Knolling as a method of organization, but also as an art form, to create beauty from everyday objects.
After years of disassembling objects and leaving the pieces of everything to free will, it can be a very interesting and beautiful way to proceed to disassemble. It has convinced me.
What is it?
Knolling in a process to organize related objects in parallel or 90 degrees as an organization method.
So initially it is a process to organize objects, although later this has derived and is used to create beauty with objects and as a photographic technique. It is associated and compared many times with the 5S methodology and with Kaizen.
The term was coined in 1987 by Andrew Kromelow a janitor who worked for Frank Ghery the American nationalized Canadian architect known for many of his works such as the Guggenheim museum's titanium cladding.
According to the story, they were working on the design of chairs for the well-known company Knoll and Kromelow, seeing that the workshop was very messy, began to organize the tools and he did it in a characteristic way putting them all in a way that they were well perpendicular, forming 90º or in parallel between them. This way it was very easy to see and identify all the tools at a glance.
However who has popularized the term has been the American sculptor Tom Sachs who spent 3 years working in Ghery's workshop and practically appropriated the term.
What was born as a method of organization, a production process, soon made the leap to a technique for create beauty by composing and organizing objects.
ABK or the Knolling Manifesto from Sachs and Ten Bullets
Sachs created a manifesto with this, the ABK (Always Be Knolling) that has 4 main points (my translation):
- They look around you for materials, tools, music, etc., that you don't use.
- Put away everything you don't spend. If you're not sure, put it away.
- Group them by a related topic
- Align or perpendicular objects that are on a surface or
I find it really interesting short of 10 Bullets by Tom Sachs where we can see how they are organized and work within his studio, the rules you have for safety, cleanliness, organization. A real marvel, although the Knolling is just one of the bullets I recommend watching the video in full, anyway there is some idea for people who are in charge of a Fab Lab, Maker Space or Hacker Space
And what happens now with the Knolling?
Now it is used in different fields such as advertising or photography to create orderly and beautiful compositions. It is no longer used only to organize and in many occasions as in the own McLellan book They break some rules and arrange the objects to emulate the original objects.
If you want to see how the technique is used in the composition of photographs, do not miss this video.
If you want to know more you can't miss it
- References to artists who have made since Yorokobu
- El Reddit channel. Yes, there is also a Reddit channel for this as for almost everything. Here they share images created with this technique.
- Tumblr Things Organized Neatly, another great resource to follow and discover great images.
- By Tom Sachs Official Web Ten bullets
- Interesting examples of Knolling and photography