As the design field has grown from a specialized niche for a handful of collectors into a vital form of contemporary expression, Cristina Grajales has championed authenticity, artisanship and innovation in the work she represents, contributing to greater understanding and interest worldwide.
Born in Colombia, Grajales came to the US as a student in the late 1970s. Following an early job at a SoHo art gallery, she spent a decade as director of 1950 Gallery, New York’s pre-eminent source for post-war European design, where she introduced a new generation of collectors to masterworks by Jean Prouvé, Charlotte Perriand, Serge Mouille and Pierre Jeanneret, among others. In 2001, Grajales opened her eponymous gallery and design advisory business, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.
At a series of striking downtown locations, Grajales mounted early, career-defining shows for the artists José Parla and Mira Nakashima, among others, and invited reappraisal of long-established voices, including Sheila Hicks, Robert Wilson and Doug and Mike Starn. She has a particular passion for textiles and for metalwork, both of which she’s championed among curators and connoisseurs, maintaining the gallery and its artists at the forefront of the design conversation.
Grajales continues to advise global collectors on acquisitions and sales. Highlights include the 2003 private sale of Isamu Noguchi’s Goodyear Table, now considered to be one of the seminal works of furniture in private hands, designed in 1939 for the home of Museum of Modern Art Chairman A. Conger Goodyear; and the 2005 purchase for a client of Carlo Mollino’s 1949 glass-topped trestle table at Christies, establishing a new benchmark for collectible furniture. Beyond the gallery, Grajales sits on the board of the arts organization Creative Time and is founder of the ongoing “Dialogues with Design Legends” lecture series at the 92nd Street Y.