Greta Magnusson Grossman

We all have our favorite modern architects. There are so many California modernists that come to mind when thinking about a modern house full of modern art and design. Swedish born Greta Magnusson Grossman is one of my favorites. She immigrated to Los Angeles in 1940, where she continued her Architectural work, which was already well known in Sweden. I could easily live in one the houses she designed, filling it with her furniture and lighting. The idea that she would often build her houses on spec, living in them until they sold is an especially dreamy idea.  I imagine that experience of living in her houses would inform the next project and make her intimately tuned into the space and how it works. — angela


“Born and raised in Sweden, Greta Magnusson Grossman represents a literal link between European design and California modernism. In 1940, after already establishing herself as a renowned designer in Sweden, she and her husband, jazz bandleader Billy Grossman, immigrated to Los Angeles. Although Grossman’s work was well known and in demand through the 1950s and ‘60s her work was photographed by Julius Shulman, she appeared frequently in John Entenza’s Art & Architecture magazine and she received two prestigious Good Design Awards from MoMA–she faded into relative obscurity. Recently, renewed interest in this pioneering modernist has resulted in some of her pieces being brought back into production.”26e0a969ef67478eb4f89779108ce76991a2eb975d5c7364e8c983e0ca3127a9 31e9834e6eb979484b776bcfa293176075f1cb05159e0e522e74e244d244e767

“Grossman opened her first store/workshop, called Studio, in Stockholm in 1933 with classmate Erik Ullrich. Here she took numerous commissions, including a crib for Sweden’s Princess Birgitta, and she became the first woman to receive a prize for furniture design from the Swedish Society of Industrial Design. This success followed her to California, where she opened her second shop, Magnusson-Grossman Studio, on Rodeo Drive in 1940, which was popular with clients like Greta Garbo, Joan Fontaine and Gracie Allen. Grossman’s compact, functional and visually lightweight modern aesthetic appealed to a previously ignored, but ever-growing demographic: single, savvy, career-minded women. Some of her pieces, like the Cobra Lamp, designed in 1950 for Ralph O. Smith (and recently brought back into production by Gubi) and her 1952 Desk with Storage for Glen of California, have become icons of California modern.”



293c67b1f20d58acbb0eb597b89be65c719b480f055a96b98fe5382b3d92f967 “Grossman’s creativity and brilliance were also evident in at least fourteen homes she designed between 1949 and 1959. Often building them on spec and then living in them until she found a buyer her residences were defined by their diminutive scale and lightness of form, frequently balanced perfectly on the edge of a hillside. Crafted of classic modern materials like steel and stone, Grossman also incorporated rich woods and natural light to create warmth. Unfortunately, many of these homes have since been demolished, though several do remain.”94590f8a8ec33030034b026b0ae58e2831663319c8b81271e8f09b5ac818d8a9b1127b1411002bd5c4c27a69eeaf3358 356163fa0c0c1a980929707e285d2941“In 1951, Grossman is quoted as saying that California design “is not a superimposed style, but an answer to present conditions. It has developed out of our own preference for living in a modern way.” Her preference and groundbreaking work as a female designer–has become a recognizable part of the visual vocabulary of American modernism.“ >>Design Within Reachbde32513d68bdf91e464997553516c57c0ff14556843be68bd56757d6e30afa1ecffa6a4c702db6caf0f08b140e7eb3d