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Henriette Granville Suhr papers

 Collection
Identifier: KA-0054-01

Overview

Interior designer and Parsons School of Design alumna Henriette Granville Suhr (1917-2015) specialized in merchandising and display design. This collection represents her work for such manufacturers, retailers, and designers as Baker Furniture, Bloomingdale's, and T. H. Robsjohn-Gibbings.

Dates

  • 1949 - 2014
  • Majority of material found within 1950 - 1976

Creator

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.

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.

Extent

2.6 Cubic Feet (2 boxes, 1 oversized folder)

Language of Materials

English

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.

Organization and Arrangement

Arranged alphabetically in one series.

Other Finding Aids

For selected item-level description and images from the Henriette Granville Suhr papers, see the New School Archives Digital Collections at https://digitalarchives.library.newschool.edu/index.php/Detail/collections/KA005401.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

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

Processing Information

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.

Processed by Cameron Goodman.
Title
Guide to the Henriette Granville Suhr papers
Status
Completed
Author
New School Archives and Special Collections Staff
Date
February 3, 2017
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
English