Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

'The Gruen Transfer'

By Nicholas Gruen - posted Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Those with an unusual surname have to get used to spelling it. No it’s not Gluner. Not Glueball or Grewbie it’s Gruen “G-R-U-E-N”. The compensation is your name identifies you or a family member pretty clearly.

But odd things happen to Gruens. In the 1990s I believe some activists were unable to register “The Australian Green Party” because it was similar to the Greens. So for over a decade, Gruens marking their ballot papers wondered just who the Australian Gruen Party were, and why they hadn’t been in touch.

And now I’m getting daily e-mails asking if my finance company is really becoming the Gruen Bank, the first commercial outfit to advertise on the ABC. And what was Andrew Denton doing holding up Gruen Beer at the Logies?


You can find out tonight when The Gruen Transfer premiers on ABC TV.

Victor Gruen’s life was suffused with excitement, irony and ultimately disappointment. Like my father Fred, Victor was a Viennese Jew who escaped the continent in the 1930s. Victor was also a socialist, an architect and an active participant in Viennese cabaret.

Even with the Gestapo closing in he had an eye for the main chance. A friend donned a Nazi stormtrooper’s uniform and drove Gruen to the airport. That was the first Gruen Transfer.

Gruen found quick success as an architect in America. A modernist fan of Le Corbusier, he designed enticing storefronts with mini-arcades at the entrances to inveigle customers into the shop’s space whereupon eye level displays would draw them further into the store. They were dubbed “mousetraps” for customers.

He had found his métier.

He was a strange mix of bombast, restlessness, idealism and megalomania.


His architecture sought to recreate in the suburbs the civic space of the Viennese Ringstrasse.

So naturally enough ... he invented the shopping mall.

One of his earlier designs from the 40s envisaged a mall with 28 shops and 13 civic facilities including a library, post office, theatre, lecture hall, night club, nursery, playroom and a stable.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. All

First published in the Australian Financial Review on May 27, 2008.

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Dr Nicholas Gruen is CEO of Lateral Economics and Chairman of Peach Refund Mortgage Broker. He is working on a book entitled Reimagining Economic Reform.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Nicholas Gruen

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Photo of Nicholas Gruen
Article Tools
Comment Comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy