The Surprising History Behind Instagram Flat Lay Shots

Chances are you'll see at least a few flat lays while scrolling through your Instagram feed at any given time. Indeed, even data proves its popularity: Shutterstock just released a report that indicated searches for flat lays increased by 160% on its site last year. But as it turns out, the trend has a pretty interesting history.

According to Lyst, the concept was first known as "knolling." The term was coined in 1987 by Andrew Kromelow, who was then a janitor at Frank Gehry's furniture shop. "Kromelow used to arrange his displaced tools at right angles on all surfaces, and called this routine knolling because the tools were arranged in right angles—similar to Knoll furniture," Lyst explains.

With the advent of Instagram, now flat lays are more likely to feature clothes, accessories, and food rather than tools, but the idea remains the same. Interesting, right? 

Scroll down to see some of our favorite stylish flat lays on Instagram!


everyday⚡️ #liketkit

A photo posted by Mary Seng (@happilygrey) on

Rag & Bone Standard Issue Lace Up Sneakers  ($195)


So maybe I'm having a black and white summer ???? @havaianasusa

A photo posted by Shea Marie (@peaceloveshea) on

Same Swim The Catch Bikini Top ($195). 


B E A U T Y essentials @lamer ???? | Loving the lip balm, the mist and renewal oil. #LaMerLive

A photo posted by JULIE SARIÑANA (@sincerelyjules) on

Had you ever heard about knolling before? Tell us in the comments below!