Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Professor Ronald Knoth, New York

Image Copyright Laboratory Institute of Merchandising

With a huge amount of sadness we have just heard of the untimely death of Professor Knoth in New York.  Professor Knoth and I corresponded on a daily basis on the 'ins and outs' of daily life in Visual Merchandising here in London and New York sharing ideas, concepts, perspectives and critiques.  I always felt that we were very much like a contemporary version of the characters in the film, 84, Charing Cross Road and such was our collaborative thinking, that,  in Ron's initial introduction, he said to me in his usual Gentleman-like manner, "I think we must be twins separated at birth, albeit by a decade or so".

If you're not familiar with the film, made in 1987, its a British/American drama which was produced based on a play by James Roose-Evans and letters sent between Helene Hanff and Frank Doel. In 1949, Helene Hanff in New York while searching for British literature titles noticed an advertisement in the Sunday Review of Literature and contacted the shop Marks and Co. (84 Charing Cross Road, London) and the then manager Frank Doel who fulfills her requests, and so ensues their long distance friendship. Their correspondence includes a variety of discussions and as their friendship evolves Hanff begins to send gifts and food parcels in order to help Doel during the food shortages of World War II. Sadly, they never meet.


Of course with the age of digital technology Ron and I were able to send messages at the touch of a button and because of this media it enabled the wonderful opportunity to work with him across the pond. Professor Knoth and I regularly (several times a week) exchanged messages from London to New York, and back again, much like Hanff and Doel, although in our case often sharing images of the best (and occasionally the worst) in Visual Merchandising from London and New York. And thankfully, we did meet, and I was able to spend at least some time getting to know this phenomenal man. Professor Knoth also wrote regularly for his own blog site, http://www.bespokenfor.net/ in a way that I can only aspire to be able to do.
 
Professor Knoth had a huge amount of experience in Visual Merchandising and was a great authority on the likes of Lester Gaba which he, as benevolent as he was, gladly and selflessly shared with everyone.  
 
Professor Ronald Knoth, in our own words was,  Possibly the last real New York Gentleman. 
 
Our dear friend is enormously missed by us, and our industry and our thoughts now are with his family at this very sad time.  R.I.P. 

Obituary: New York Times, 13th September, 2011
KNOTH--Ronald aka Leeander Scott, passed away September 10, 2011. He leaves a loving partner Jim Unger, father Ronald Knoth, brothers Edward and Curt, sisters Audrey and Elizabeth, nieces and nephews who learned to be better people from him. Predeceased by sister Marianne and mother Gloria. Born in Connecticut, raised in South Orange, Moving to New York City in 1993. Gifted in Arts/Fashion, Social Work, Aids activist, a truly inspirational human being. A Professor at LIM. Services at Plaza Chapel on Amsterdam and 91st Street on Wednesday at 2:00pm. Friends/family gather at 1:00pm. In lieu of Flowers, please help someone in need.
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