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Guide to the Henriette Granville Suhr papers, 1949-2014

Collection Overview

Repository

Kellen Design Archives

Collection Identifier

KA.0054.01

Creator

Suhr, Henriette Granville

Title

Henriette Granville Suhr papers, 1949-2014, (Bulk, 1950-1976)

Extent

1.1 linear ft: 2 boxes and 1 oversized folder

Language of Materials

English

Preferred Citation note

[Identification of item], [date (if known)], Henriette Granville Suhr papers, KA.0054.01, box __, folder __, New School Archives, The New School, New York, New York.

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Biographical Note

Henriette Granville Suhr was an interior designer who specialized in merchandising and store display. Born in Vienna, Austria in 1917, Granville moved to Paris with her family in the 1920s. Around 1934, her mother met Parsons School of Design president William Odom and Van Day Truex, who led the school's Paris Ateliers. Granville and her sister entered the Paris school that year, and Granville studied interior design with famed designer Jean-Michel Frank, among others. After graduating in 1937, Granville went to work for decorator Jeanne Lanvin in Paris and remained in this position until immigrating to New York City in 1941. Shortly thereafter, Granville began working at Macy's department store, becoming the first woman to create the store's window displays.

Granville's career blossomed. She moved to Lord and Taylor in 1946 and to Kandell Inc., a drapery and upholstery company, in 1947. In 1949, she began a long tenure at Bloomingdale's department store as fashion coordinator for Home Furnishings and the Men's Store, and manager of the Interior Decorating Department. She became known for her skill in arranging home furnishings into coordinated model rooms, enabling customers to imagine the merchandise in their own homes. This form of display became standard practice across the industry.

In 1950 or 1951, and again in 1952, Edgar Kaufmann, curator of the Museum of Modern Art's "Good Design" exhibitions, selected Bloomingdale's as the sole department store in New York City to display home furnishings from the influential show. Kaufmann and Granville remained close friends. Another of Granville's professional connections to become a friend was furniture designer T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings, or "Gibby," as he was known to those close to him.

In 1957, Granville was responsible for the planning, design and installation of the first ever import show at Bloomingdale's, "At Home with Scandinavian Design." The exhibition, five showrooms that Granville filled with furniture, fabrics, lighting, china and accessories, met with resounding success and has been credited with popularizing Scandinavian home design in the American retail market.

As a marketing and design consultant, from 1958 to 1964 Granville represented such companies as Baker, Dansk, Boris Kroll Fabrics, and Kaufmanns, Pittsburgh. She was also instrumental in the establishment of the Fashion Group's home furnishings section. Granville also served as a critic in Parsons's Interior Architecture and Decoration Department from 1952-1959.

In 1956, Granville and her husband, William Suhr, the Frick Museum's chief conservator, acquired Rocky Hills, a thirteen-acre farm in Mount Kisco, New York. While Granville (in later years using her married name, Henriette Suhr), continued consulting into the 1980s--her last project was for Lord and Taylor gift shop--the couple grew increasingly passionate about gardening and environmental issues. They held open days in the gardens at Rocky Hills and sponsored educational programs.

Henriette Granville Suhr died in March, 2015. Rocky Hills was later established as a land trust to be protected as green space in perpetuity.

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Scope and Content of Collection

The collection consists of photographic prints, press clippings, promotional materials and some correspondence, primarily documenting Granville's professional career in the 1950s. More than half of the collection consists of photographic prints of Granville's home furnishings showrooms at Bloomingdale's. The collection does not contain Granville's student work from Parsons School of Design or work from her early career at Jeanne Lanvin or Macy's. A small amount of correspondence with friends and colleagues offers only a glimpse into Granville's activities outside of her professional life.

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Organization and Arrangement

Arranged alphabetically in one series.

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Administrative Information

Processed by Cameron Goodman.

Publication Information

Kellen Design Archives - February 3, 2017

66 5th Avenue
lobby level
New York, NY, 10011
212.229.5942
archivist@newschool.edu

Preferred Citation note

[Identification of item], [date (if known)], Henriette Granville Suhr papers, KA.0054.01, box __, folder __, New School Archives, The New School, New York, New York.

Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research use. Please contact archivist@newschool.edu for appointment.

Use Restrictions

To publish images of material from this collection, permission must be obtained in writing from the New School Archives and Special Collections. Please contact: archivist@newschool.edu.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Bequeathed by Henriette Granville Suhr to the New School Archives upon her death in 2015. Formally accessioned, 2016.

Processing Information note

When the collection was brought to the archives, some of the photographs, press clippings and letters were loosely placed inside the covers of a scrapbook. These materials were found to duplicate or relate closely to materials found in folders or loose inside the box. The scrapbook was dismantled and the contents brought together with related materials.

Notes in this collection guide were informed by conversations between New School Archives' staff and Henriette Granville Suhr in 2010.

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Keywords for Searching Related Subjects

Corporate Name(s)

  • Bloomingdale’s (Firm).

Genre(s)

  • Clippings (information artifacts).
  • Correspondence.
  • Photographs.
  • Reports.

Occupation(s)

  • Interior designers.

Personal Name(s)

  • Kaufmann, Edgar, 1910-1989
  • Robsjohn-Gibbings, Terence Harold, 1905-

Subject(s)

  • Department stores -- United States -- 20th century.
  • Display of merchandise.
  • Furniture design -- United States -- 20th century -- Pictorial works.
  • Publicity.

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Collection Inventory

Box Folder
Baker Furniture, Inc.: General, 1952-1962 
1 1
Baker Furniture, Inc.: Showroom photographs (Photographer: Richard Averill Smith), 1952-1962 
1 2
Baldwin Music Center showroom (Photographer: Kal Weyner), 1966 

Includes photographs, a pamphlet, and magazine pages depicting Baldwin Piano Company's Seventh Avenue piano and organ showroom, designed by Granville.

1 3
Bloomingdale's 

Includes black and white photographic prints of showrooms, press clippings and promotional materials. Many of the photographs are packaged for distribution to press outlets--these have color stereoscopic slides and press releases attached.

"At Home with Scandinavian Design" showrooms (Photographer: Richard Averill Smith), 1957-1958 
1 4-5
Display window photographs, 1949 Jul 
1 6
Home Furnishings Coordinator reports, 1956-1960 
1 7
India merchandising trip, 1955-1968 

Documents a trip to India on behalf of Bloomingdale’s to source merchandise, primarily textiles. Consists of Granville's report, correspondence regarding travel, and a pamphlet on new Coca-Cola plants inscribed by Mohan Singh. The file also includes a later proposal by Granville to the Indian consulate to serve as merchandising consultant to the Indian government, as well as William Suhr's permit for trekking in Nepal.

2
Promotional photographs and clippings (Photographers: Joe Engels, Kal Weyner), 1949-1960 

Includes photographs of Granville and colleagues.

1 9
Showroom photographs (Photographers: Richard Averill Smith, Charles R. Diamond), 1950-1951, undated 
1 10-13
2 1-2
Correspondence: General, 1965-1971, 2012-2014 

Includes letters and photographs from Granville's colleagues, including most notably Holiss S. Baker, Dorothy Liebes and H.O. Gummerus.

2 3
Correspondence with Edgar Kaufmann, 1952-1988 

Includes notes commending Granville on Bloomingdale's display of merchandise from the Museum of Modern Art's "Good Design" show, as well as personal notes and Kaufmann's writings about Frank Lloyd Wright's house, Fallingwater, which had been commissioned by his father.

2 4
Dansk Designs Ltd.: Building photographs and clippings, probably 1955 

Documents Dansk's showroom in Westchester County, New York. According to Granville, the building was modeled on a Mayan temple.

2 5
"Five Days in Rome": Trip to attend Inauguration of the Contemporary Art Gallery of the Vatican Museum, 1973 

Documents Granville's trip, including correspondence, program booklet, event schedule and photographs.

k_15 15
Granville, Henriette: Curriculum vitae, documentation of work as consultant, and photograph, 1967-1987, undated 

Includes a press clipping depicting furniture designer Ward Bennett with a metal rack. According to Granville, the rack was her idea. Also includes a photograph of a woman who might be Granville or a member of her family.

2 6
k_15 15
Granville Suhr residence photographs, 1951-1958 

Includes photographs of interiors and press clippings about the design and decoration of Granville's East 72nd Street apartment in New York City, and her Mount Kisco home.

2 7-9
Robsjohn-Gibbings, T. H. 

Includes photographs documenting Granville's room designs using Robsjohn-Gibbings's furniture, including photographs of Bloomingdale's "Designs for American Taste by American Talent" displays. Also includes press clippings, a catalog and a transcript of Robsjohn-Gibbings's "Timeless Design" speech at a Fashion Group International Home Furnishings meeting, as well as an introduction by Granville. According to Granville, it was she who convinced Robsjohn-Gibbings to deliver this rather pointed speech on planned obsolescence.

General, 1950-1976 
2 10
Correspondence, 1950-1976 
2 11
Showroom photographs (Photographer: Richard Averill Smith), 1951 
2 12

Collection Guide Last Updated: 04/26/2017

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