Alumni Profile: Vera Neumann A’28
Vera Neumann is an icon of design and brand development, dating from the 1950s onwards. Vera Neumann was one of the most successful female entrepreneurs of her time. Throughout her business career Neumann was first and foremost an artist, whose works translated graphically into everyday objects. She maintained close relationships with her contemporaries in art and design, sharing similar aesthetics. Among her closest friends were Alexander Calder, Joan Miró, and Marcel Breuer. Neumann was an avid traveler, gathering inspiration from her visits to countries around the world, including Mexico, Peru, China, Japan, India, and Iran, among others.
Vera Salaff was born in Stamford Connecticut. Following her graduation, she set up a small studio in Greenwich Village, where she designed children’s furniture and murals for Childhood, Inc. She married George Neumann in February 1943. In 1945 Vera, her husband, and their friend F. Werner Hamm formed a partnership and went into the textile-printing business. Vera did all of the designing. They moved the business to suburban Ossining, New York, in 1947. Their company was called Printex Corporation of America. In 1949 the company began an association with Schumacher Fabrics that would last for more than thirty years. In 1967, Vera sold the company to the Manhattan Shirt Company for $5 million. She retained the presidency of the Vera Companies subsidiary and was the only woman on the board of directors of Manhattan Industries. The Vera Companies included Linens by Vera, Scarves by Vera, and Vera Sportswear.
She passed away June 15, 1993 in North Tarrytown, New York.
In 1972 Vera received the Trailblazer Award of the National Home Fashions League and the Total Design Award from the National Society of Interior Designers. That same year she was honored by a retrospective exhibition entitled “Vera: The Renaissance Woman” at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Vera received a Cooper Union Presidential Citation in 1975. She was the CUAA Alumnus of the Year in 1991, and inducted into the Cooper Union Alumni Hall of Fame in 2009.
Links to Images of works
“Vera (Salaff) Neumann.” The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives, Volume 3: 1991-1993. Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2001. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2009.