Susanne Wasson-Tucker was an architect active during much of the 1900s. She worked at the Museum of Art in New York and in Sweden she set up design exhibitions and designed aircraft fittings and furnishings.
Susanne Wasson-Tucker was born Susanne Raedermacher in Vienna in 1911. She grew up in an intellectual family, influenced by the modern currents of the time. The architect Adolf Loos was socialised in the family’s immediate social circle, which influenced her choice of profession. In 1914, the family moved into a modern villa with uncurtained windows, designed by her maternal uncle. She remembered this as being wonderful, even if life in their new home involved a number of technical difficulties. The outbreak of the first world war made it impossible to connect the electricity.
Susanne Wasson-Tucker trained as an architect at the Technische Universität in Vienna and for one year she also attended Kunstgewerbeschule there (now Universität für angewandte Kunst Wien), where Professor Josef Frank was teaching. After having completed her studies, she worked first at an architect’s office in Berlin and later in Vienna. In both cities, she was plagued by the political climate. The German annexing of Austria, the Anschluss, in 1938 made her leave the country and first travel to Denmark, where she had previously been a ”war child”, but she was recommended to travel on to Sweden where in 1939 she worked for the architects Sune Lindström and Ivar Ståhl in Stockholm.
In Stockholm she met and married the Canadian architect Arnold Wasson-Tucker. Their fear of war developments caused the couple to travel to the USA in 1940. They arrived in New York at the same time as Alvar Aalto was about to return to Finland. According to him, it was as though she had been sent especially to look after his American enterprise during the war years. It was sluggish, which made it possible for her to create product and travelling exhibitions for the Museum of Modern Art’s architecture and design section in 1941—1945. Among the first were the plastics exhibition and the homes exhibition America Builds, that was sent round the world and shown at the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm in 1944, and also the exhibition Two Cities, about city planning in North and South America in 1947. Together with the architect Serge Chermayeff, she designed The Solar House as a vision of the future. The ambition was to prepare a modern life style for the coming peacetime.
The assignment to design furnishings and fittings for the American company Knoll was the start of a new career. First she was responsible for the interior design of the American embassy in Cuba and later for the three that were built in Scandinavia in 1951—1959. The latter assignment led to her return to Stockholm. The embassies were furnished with modern American furniture designed by the architect Eero Saarinen for Knoll and by Charles and Ray Eames for the Herman Miller company that manufactured on licence from Nordiska Kompaniet’s workshops in Nyköping.
After completing this assignment, Susanne Wasson-Tucker decided to continue her enterprise in Sweden. One important condition was that she should be able to be freelance and not be tied down by an appointment. In the USA, she had learnt how important this way of working is for freedom in the creative process of a designer. She had designed furnishings and fittings for departments at NK’s department store in Hamngatan in Stockholm and for the Foresta Hotel on Lidingö, in its time a revolutionary apartment hotel, adapted for longer sojourns. Other assignments were the designing of the arts and crafts department at H55 in Helsingborg in 1955 and the Swedish participation at the Triennal in Milan in 1957, as well as the homes department at Le Maison Ideale in Bryssel in 1965.
Commissioned by the Swedish Institute, she created a number of Swedish design exhibitions abroad during the 1950s and 1960s. During the years 1959—1966 she was the person who was exclusively responsible for the exhibition activities at Svensk Form Design Center that was annexed to Konstfack in Stockholm.
Parallel to all this, Susanne Wasson-Tucker created office interiors and cooperated with a number of international clients including SAS, Fokkerplanen and McDonnell Douglas DC9 not to mention Malaysia-Singapore Airlines, all of which needed aircraft furnishings and fittings. During the years 1979—1992, the journalist and consumer advisor Willy Maria Lundberg created the cultural centre Träslottet in Arbrå, where Susanne Wasson-Tucker was responsible for the pedagogical homes exhibitions produced by the enterprise. The youth revolt of the 1960s with vivid colours and a discussion on throwing away used articles does not seem to have affected Susanne Wasson-Tucker. She was a pronounced modernist, and her designed environments were trendy in their time. Her striving was for timeless quality throughout, that would allow each individual plenty of elbow room. During the 2000s, her work has been appreciated anew.
Susanne Wasson-Tucker died in 2008 in Stockholm. She lies buried in the Woodland Cemetery in the same city.