Remembering John Grieves

Published: 5 Nov 2012

John came to Sweden in the early 60s, with a strong sense of right and wrong (both parents were lawyers), a rebellious attitude and social commitment. He analyzed the problems of the time and declared that with good functional design, everyday life would be better for the many people both at home and in their professional lives. As a graduate in Industrial Design from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London, John started working at the Swedish design department of IBM and later with renowned Sigvard Bernadotte Design. In 1969 he started Designgruppen AB together with six likeminded designers. A few years later they merged with another design group and formed Ergonomi Design Gruppen, later Ergonomidesign. Until his retirement he was the Chairman of the Board and a vital force in making Ergonomidesign a world leading design agency known for its people driven design processes and genuine empathy for people.

Early on, John was engaged in work environment issues with a commitment to make the heavy industry a more functional and beautiful place to work. He has indeed made a difference to many industrial workers over the years. Great projects like the ventilation fans for painters, high-pressure painting equipment for Atlas Copco, welding equipment for ESAB, and industrial pumps for Flygt were typical for John. In recent years he was designing phones for seniors, with a classic handset and clear buttons, and he is also famous for the little red mushroom knife, a faithful companion for many.

In 2004 he became a member of the Ministry of Culture’s Council for Architecture, Form and Design and he also served repeated periods as a member of the Board of Svensk Form (the Swedish Society of Crafts and Design).

No one who met John could escape his expressive personality and his love for a great discussion. In more ways than one he would bring color to the room and whether it was a meeting with clients or a Christmas party you would never have a dull moment when John was around. We will miss him deeply.

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