Designer: Greta Magnusson Grossman

Wright is proud to hold the top auction record for a work by Greta Magnusson Grossman, an architect and designer whose enduring works effortlessly blend European modernist principles with a Californian sensibility and style. 
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[Modern design] is not a superimposed style, but an answer to present conditions ... It has developed out of our own preferences for living in a modern way. It expresses our habits and our tastes.

Greta Magnusson Grossman

Five Things to Know about Greta Magnusson Grossman

Though primarily celebrated for her furniture, Magnusson Grossman was also an architect, ceramicist, textile designer and interior designer.

In 1927 she enrolled at the School of Industrial Design in Stockholm and took on a woodworking apprenticeship in an all-male workshop, where she learned the furniture trade from the ground up.

Productions of her furniture for Glenn of California in the 1950s often were no more than a few hundred pieces and sometimes as little as 30.

In 1963, Magnusson Grossman left her teaching position at UCLA and retired from designing. She moved to Southern California to study painting at College of the Desert and her works fell into relative obscurity for many years.

In 1950, Greta Magnusson Grossman was awarded the MoMA Good Design award for the Cobra lamp.

Mary Worth comic strip from the 1950s featuring Magnusson Grossman's design

Innovative Designs

These sketches are studies for lamps Magnusson Grossman designed for Ralph O. Smith in 1947 and 1948. They are taken from;Greta Magnusson Grossman: Furniture and Lighting (The Drawing Center, Drawing Papers Volume 8, 2008).

The easiest way to show what you can do is to do it on your own.

Greta Magnusson Grossman

Auction Results Greta Magnusson Grossman

Greta Magnusson Grossman 1906–1999

Greta Magnusson Grossman was one of the leading figures of the Los Angeles Modern movement. Born in Sweden in 1906, she began her formal training at the Swedish arts and crafts school Konstfack, where she studied woodworking and ceramics. In 1933, Grossman became the first woman to win second prize for her furniture designs at the Stockholm Craft Association’s furniture competition. After graduating, she opened her own critically acclaimed furniture and interior design atelier. With her popularity, she was even asked by a Swedish princess to design a crib for the royal baby.

After moving to the United States in 1940, Grossman famously reported to the press that the only things she needed for California living were “a car and a pair of shorts.” She continued her entrepreneurial streak by opening up a store in Beverly Hills where her designs were eagerly sought after by Hollywood stars like Greta Garbo, Gracie Allen, and Joan Fontaine. Grossman’s famed Cobra Lamp was featured in both of the Museum of Modern Art of New York’s Good Design exhibitions. Impressed by the famed Eames and Neutra Case Study House program, Grossman designed fourteen houses from 1949 to 1959. Among her most famous is the Hurley Residence in Beverly Hills, which features a melding between indoor and outdoor space, a steel frame construction, and sweeping cantilevers.

During the 1950s, Grossman taught furniture design at the University of California, Los Angeles and at the Art Center in Pasadena frequently being featured in John Entzena’s Art and Architecture magazine. In 1966, she retired, living in the home that she designed for herself until her death in 1999. Greta Magnusson Grossman left behind a rich legacy of both architecture and furniture design that shaped the California landscape.

Magnusson Grossman's home in Los Angeles, c. 1949. Photograph by Julius Shulman.

There is no sense in discarding the old merely because it is not new. So many old things mix in very well. So many good things are timeless.

Greta Magnusson Grossman

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