Always Be Knolling

I heart the internoodle.

There is actually a name for what I do. Knolling: “the process of arranging like objects in parallel or 90 degree angles as a method of organization.”

Apparently Knoll is a company known for angular chairs yada yada and somehow this word turned into a verb for organizing things in a logical way, so that they’re actually more visible and organized to the user.

And here I thought I was just nuts!

The American sculptor Tom Sachs spent two years in Gehry’s shop as a fabricator and adopted use of the term from Kromelow. Nowadays, knolling is integral to his process[2]. Sachs adopted the phrase “Always be Knolling” as a mantra for his studio (in direct reference to Blake’s infamous “Always be Closing” in Glengarry Glen Ross), which he expands on in his 2009 studio manual, 10 Bullets:


  1. Scan your environment for materials, tools, books, music, etc. which are not in use.
  2. Put away everything not in use. If you aren’t sure, leave it out.
  3. Group all ‘like’ objects.
  4. Align or square all objects to either the surface they rest on, or the studio itself. [Wiki]

I first came across the knolling concept in a Salon article last week, but the Wiki piece does a much better job explaining the whole thing. I’ve been compulsively arranging stuff my whole life and am just so excited there’s actually a word for it, outside of the DSM-IV, I mean.

 This is my knolling next to the stove.

Is knolling genetic? My daughter seems to be doing some too…

Now, what’s the word for needing things such as shirts on hangers, money in wallet, CDs on shelf, etc. to face the same direction?

12 responses to “Always Be Knolling

  1. Now, what’s the word for needing things such as shirts on hangers, money in wallet, CDs on shelf, etc. to face the same direction? The word is “organization”: It makes it easier and therefore quicker to find things, and in the case of the hangers, easier to grab stuff at once in case of fire (my mom’s excuse). You may add to this the folding of plastic shopping bags in thirds. Quite the space saver! (Thanks, Mom!)

    As for knolling (is the K silent?), I think I’m a semi-knoller. I knoll at work, but at home I like things organized evenly, not necessarily quadratically. I fill up space at home.


    • At work, I’m organized but wary of over-neatening papers on my desk in fear of things getting lost in the shuffle (happened ONCE in 10 years). So, I keep things a bit more spread out than is aesthetically pleasing.


  2. I LOL at knolling! ‘k, maybe not. But I apparently am not so much a knoller as I like a little asymmetry for that artistic skew. However! I need things that are hung on walls to be level with the lines of the wall upon which they hang, I need money to be facing the same direction, hangers/shirts also to be facing the same direction (none of this makes it easier to find, so much as just, well, _correct_, and such like.

    For plastic shopping bags, I have a sack sock. I just ball up the bags into tiny little wads that are slightly knotted (but knot knolled) and cram ’em into this tube that has elastic at each end. It hangs from a peg near where I keep my brooms ‘n such.


    • Yes, asymmetry is good — I have that on bookshelves and such. Pictures MUST be level, omg. Sack sock sounds spiffy. I have a paper back under the sink full of plastic bags, kno knots.


  3. Shirts face the same way. I think it would be a lot of work to make them face various ways. (Well, there would only be two ways now, wouldn’t there?) I used to have to button the collar button after placing on the hanger, but thank God I have gotten over that. (Since it was the only time these buttons got used.)

    Money is grouped by denomination. I always worry that I’ll hand someone four ones and there will actually be a twenty in there. I realize that organizing them actually seems to make that more likely, if I become too “unconscious” about it, but I still do it, BUT double check before handing over. I don’t care which way the presidents are looking. I have also quit counting change when the clerk throws it in my hand. It always goes in my left front pocket. Right front: keys only.

    I no longer know where my laptop operating system and applications place my files. Nor do I care. I think this alone is going to add four or five years to my life. Microsoft eat my shorts.

    There are only certain places in the house where I will set my glasses down. Maybe five total, so when I lose them, it doesn’t take 72 hours to find them. Only 14.

    Sorry. I realize my response has gone beyond knolling.


    • Yes, definitely money must be grouped or all hell would break loose. I wear my glasses except to sleep and then they must be within grabbing distance or I’d be in a lot of trouble. Same with phone as I haz no clock, plus I like to check on the internoodle at 2:30AM just to make sure all is OK.


  4. I don’t knoll kneither, but I get the shirts thing. I hang em at one end of the rack and take em out the other, sort of a FIFO queue, and the ones that get skipped accumulate at the end where I can identify them as shirts I never wear that can go to Goodwill except I never take them but let them hang for years and years, unworn, unloved, and likely to last years longer than shirts I like.

    In the drawer, my socks are pretty knolly.


    • Sox ‘n panties. Lead clean ones at one end of drawer, remove from other. Sox grouped by color. Panties have to be mixed with no panties within two of the same color.

      Yes. I am a weirdo.


  5. I do periodically agonize over the closet — whether to group by color/style or FIFO/FILO, but C/S always wins. Luckily I remember what I wear (I think), so I don’t usually show up at the office same thing every week. Drawers are FILO so everything rotates, except the stuff I don’t really like.


  6. I can’t sit at a table where the silverware or salt and pepper shakers or glasses are out of line. Can’t. Even if I’m at someone else’s house I have to fix it. Yet my closet is an utter disaster, SO sloppy, crap EVERYWHERE. So I don’t know what that says.


  7. When I look at my acre of slovenliness, some rooms OK, not three, I practice an evasion that goes, It is what comes out of a man that defiles him, not the posture of his linen. Feature reaching into a mound of floppy knickerbockers. Truth is, I like looking for stuff.


  8. I call that being a librarian. . .


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