Strengell, Marianne (1909–1998)

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Strengell, Marianne (1909–1998)

Finnish-born American textile designer. Name variations: Marianne Hammarstrom. Born in Helsinki, Finland, in 1909; died on May 8, 1998, in Wellfleet, Massachusetts; trained in design at the Institute of Industrial Arts in Helsinki; married Olav Hammarstrom; children: son Chris Dusenbury.

An innovator in the development of American commercial-production textiles, Marianne Strengell was among the first to utilize synthetics in combination with natural fibers. She was born in Helsinki in 1909 and worked in Copenhagen as a rug, fabric, and furniture designer before immigrating to the United States in 1936. Her career in America began at Michigan's Cranbrook Academy where she became first an instructor in the weaving and textile design department and then department head. Strengell would remain at Cranbrook until her retirement in 1961. Around 1940, she designed custom fabrics for auto upholstery—with Ford Motor Company, General Motors Corporation, and Chrysler among her commissions—as well as fabrics for United Airlines. New York's Manhattan House and Owens Corning Fiberglass Building also received the benefit of her designs in their rugs and upholstery.

During the 1950s, the U.S. Foreign Operations Administration asked Strengell, who was by then a nationally recognized weaver and textile artist, to serve as an adviser to textile industry developments in Japan and the Philippines. After her retirement from Cranbrook, she played a similar role in Jamaica during the 1960s. At the time of her death in 1998, Strengell's work had appeared in more than 70 solo exhibitions and in such prestigious museums as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the National Museum of American Art.


Bakri, Lama. "Marianne Hammarstrom, Know Worldwide for Weaving, Textile Art," in The Detroit News. May 14, 1998.

Pile, John. Dictionary of 20th-Century Design. NY: Facts on File, 1990.

Helga P. McCue , freelance writer, Waterford, Connecticut

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