“The easiest way to show what you can do is do it yourself.”
Greta Magnusson Grossman was a pioneer—not because she wished to be, but because she had to be. Coming from a long line of Swedish cabinetmakers, the young Greta Magnussen became the only female woodworking apprentice at Kärnans, a furniture manufacturer in her hometown of Helsingborg. She then won a scholarship to study furniture design at the prestigious Konstfack in Stockholm, which led, upon her graduation in 1933, to the opening of her workshop/store, Studio.
The next seven years brought a growing reputation in the design world, further studies in architecture at the Royal Academy of Technology, an award for furniture design from the Stockholm Craft Association (the first ever earned by a woman), marriage to jazz musician Billy Grossman, and a move to Los Angeles--where she became the first woman to work from a self-owned studio in California by opening Magnussen-Grossman Studio on Rodeo Drive.
A woman in a man’s industry, Greta Magnusson Grossman gave herself the chance that no one else would, designing and decorating her own home, which became hugely celebrated in the architecture and design worlds, making her architecture, furniture, and lighting--such as the iconic Grässhoppa and Cobra lights--a central influence on the growing California Design movement and hugely popular with celebrities such as Greta Garbot, Ingrid Bergman, and Frank Sinatra, as well as earning her a professorship in furniture design at UCLA.
Then, in 1963, Greta M. Grossman abruptly retired and spent the rest of her life quietly in a self-designed home in San Diego painting landscapes. Though Grossman died in 1999, recent resurgence of interest in Modernism and California Design has helped renew appreciation of her work, leading to new releases of her designs through Gubi, and she is at last gaining the recognition her work truly deserves.