Swedish architect and designer Greta Magnusson Grossman broke through gender barriers to embark on a prolific career. In 1940, she and her husband immigrated to the United States, where her approach to Swedish modernism struck a chord with single, professional women who felt that she understood their needs and sensibilities. She opened a store on Rodeo Drive, where her furniture and accessories quickly drew the attention of clients such as Greta Garbo, Joan Fontaine and Gracie Allen. In the 1950s, she founded her architecture office and designed 14 homes – 13 in California and one in Sweden – each one a showcase for her quietly dramatic approach. The Cobra Lamp (1950), with a profile evoking the flared hood of its namesake, has a flexible tubular arm and an oval shade that rotates 360 degrees to direct light where needed. This is an authentic Grossman lamp, produced to the designer’s original specifications. Bulb (not included): incandescent 40W/E12 or comparable CFL. Made in Denmark.
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 and 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.
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. Read more >