Next up: Bed and breakfast

Next up: Bed and breakfast
Walter Knoll's Grand Suite sofa (above) and Foster 520 armchair.

He was trained as a lawyer but never practised, opting instead to follow in the footsteps of his family.

Mr Markus Benz, head of Walter Knoll, is the son of Rolf Benz, the famed German furniture-maker who sold his company in 1980.

More than a decade later, the younger Mr Benz felt the pull of the furniture business keenly and went after another family-owned furniture company. "It's the mental heritage of my family," says Stuttgart-based Mr Benz, 53, who was in Singapore last week as part of a trip to visit Asian stockists of Walter Knoll furniture.

The brand is carried by Proof Living in Ion Orchard.

He says he was attracted to the Walter Knoll brand because of its rich past. He became its managing director in 1993.

The history of the brand can be traced back to Wilhelm Knoll in 1865, who opened a leather shop in Stuttgart, Germany, to make seating for chairs. He soon became the official supplier of leather seating to the royal court of Wurttemberg.

His sons Walter and Wilhelm took over the business in the early 1900s, with Wilhelm Junior sticking to leather. But Walter founded his own upholstered furniture factory, moving away from leather towards fabrics and a range of colours.

It is because the brand knew how to keep evolving that Mr Benz feels it is "in its DNA" to constantly innovate and never stagnate. "Walter Knoll produced the first modern furniture in the 1900s, after becoming famous for a competence in leather. It's still in our DNA to innovate and we continue to grow the company with new clients, new markets and expanding the product line," he says.

The company recently took big steps towards expanding its product line - known primarily for living room-focused designs of chairs and sofas.

It launched its first bed collection at the Milan Furniture Fair in April this year. Called Jaan and Yuuto, the two new upholstered bed ranges are created in collaboration with Austrian design studio Eoos. The elegantly designed beds are also accompanied by accessories such as headboards, upholstered benches, side tables and escritoires.

The new collection is expected to arrive in Singapore in the last quarter of the year and prices have not been released yet.

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