Elsa Gullberg, born Svensson in 1886 was a Swedish interior architect and textile designer, who pioneered the industrialisation of textile production.
Gullberg grew up in a bourgeois family as the oldest child in a group of five children. She had intended to train as a doctor, but when her father went out of business and then passed away, she was forced to find another profession.
She moved to Stockholm where she applied to the University of Arts, Crafts and Design, after which she took a job as textile artist Lilli Zickerman’s assistant at the Swedish Handicraft Association. It gave Gullberg basic knowledge of textiles and also an opportunity to save money for studies abroad. In 1909 she visited Paris and London, and in 1913 at the Deutscher Werkbund and Dresdner Werkstätte in Hellerau.
At her visits abroad she came in contact with the new ideas of creating industrially produced goods which quality would be equivalent to handcrafted goods. In 1917, Gullberg was engaged by the Swedish Handicraft Association / Svensk Form to put these ideas into practice. The handicraft association set up an agency to direct artists to the design industry, and Gullberg became the agency’s director. Together with Erik Wettergren, she mediated Edward Hald to Rörstrand’s porcelain factory, Wilhelm Kåge to Gustavsberg’s porcelain factory, Edvin Ollers to Kosta glassworks and Arthur Percy to Gefle porcelain factory. To Kåberg’s wallpaper factory, she hired Carl Malmsten, Gunnar Asplund and Uno Åhrén to make patterns.
She herself started a testing facility for machine-woven fabrics with the idea of transferring the “principle of needlework to a machine operation” and an important result of the activity was the Home Exhibition in 1917 at Liljevalch’s art gallery, which made Gullberg a leading figure in Stockholm’s aesthetic circles.
In 1927, Gullberg started the company Elsa Gullbergs Textil och Inredningar AB, one of Sweden’s first modern interior design companies, with a focus on functionalism with a tradition-based style. Elsa Gullberg designed many of the company’s designs herself, with the help of Märta Afzelius from 1928. However alongside Gullberg, the company’s main designs were made by Arthur Percy and Vicke Lindstrand.
Among Gullberg’s own designs are textiles such as the furniture fabric “Flamviggar” (1927), the tablecloth “Prickduken” (1934) and fabric print “Liljor” which was shown at the world exhibition in New York in 1939.
- Elsa Gullberg
- 1886 – 1984
- Participated in many public projects, including Stockholm Concert Hall (1925), M / S Kungsholm, the Matchstick Palace (1928) (1928), Gothenburg City Hall (1937) and Malmö City Theater (1944).
- Took part in the Stockholm Exhibition in 1930 with the tapestries Black Diana designed by Nils Dardel and the Crucifixion by Märta Afzelius.
- Became the first in Sweden to handprint with film printing in 1935, with the help of Richard Künzl from Vienna.
- Gullberg is represented at the National Museum in Stockholm and the Röhsska Museum in Gothenburg.