Sunday, September 23, 2012

Inspiring Icons/ Greta Magnusson Grossman

Left: Greta at her desk, 1959, Right: Her series of Cobra and Grasshopper lamps available at DWR

Some of Greta's Silhouettes, Including her Cobra lamp in Blue/ Gray, Upholstered Chemold Chair, Disk
laminate coffee table by Glenn of California "Good Design" chairs in blue upholstery, 1952, Desk Grasshopper
and Side table in walnut produced by Glenn of California
Left: Portrait of Greta in the 1940's Right: Writing Desk for Glenn of California, 1952
Pic courtesy of 20th Century Archives
Left: Three paneled folding screen, Walnut frame with painted wood balls on piano string, produced by
Glenn of California, Right: Writing desk, Cobra and Cone lamp and "Good Design" chair, 1952
Left: Stump wood "Ironing Board" coffee table, produced by Glenn of California, 1952
Right: Chair for Sherman Bertram, Photo courtesy of
Glenn of California desk Left: Photo by 20th Century Archives Right: The same desk in walnut
Left: Dresser for Glenn of California, Right: Interior of one of her houses
Photography: Anne Cusak for Los Angles Times
A collection of Greta's lamps
From Danish company Gubi website, Left: Once again a portrait of Greta at her desk a old image of her Cobra lamp

I have been pining after a Greta Magnusson Grossman lamp for some time, particularly her grasshopper floor lamp; I have just the corner for it! Thankfully Design Within Reach has for some time now been stocking some of her lighting design’s since being put back into production for many years, by Danish company Gubi so perhaps my wish may come true?! Gubi are also producing some of her furniture designs also which is super exciting!

In an era where too few women garnered public acclaim for their design and architectural talents, Greta Grossman (1906-1999) pushed through and gained acclaim both in Sweden and then in America particularly in the 1950’s after she and her husband, Billy Grossman migrated in 1940, settling in Los Angeles where she opened her store Magnusson-Grossman Studio, on Rodeo Drive in 1940, which was popular with clients like Greta Garbo, Joan Fontaine and Gracie Allen. Some of her pieces, like the Cobra Lamp, designed in 1950 for Ralph O. Smith and her 1952 Desk with Storage for Glen of California, have become icons of California modern. Original pieces now fetch an incredible amount due to their rarity.

She also designed as many as 14 homes, several remain but more than half have unfortunately been demolished, In the late 1960’s however she just kind of dropped out of the design and architecture scene and retired.

I love the simplicity but humor (without being too obvious) about her design, I hope you grow to appreciate her contribution to Design in the 20th Century and now all over again.


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