An icon of mid-century design, Greta M. Grossman was renowned as a prolific designer, architect and academic, but fell into obscurity after her retirement in the late 1960s. In honour of the 19th anniversary of her death, we celebrate Greta M. Grossman's life in design and discover how, with a little help from Danish furniture specialist Gubi, she has rightfully reclaimed her place in the furniture hall of fame.
Beginning her career as a designer in Sweden, Grossman emigrated from Stockholm to California in 1940 and subsequently opened her own studio on Rodeo Drive. The perfect base to attract clients such as Greta Garbo, Ingrid Bergman, Joan Fontaine, Gracie Allen and Frank Sinatra, Grossman is credited with bringing the Scandinavian aesthetic to the United States' flourishing mid-century design scene.
Carving out a place for herself in the male-dominated design industry, Grossman was revolutionary in the fields of industrial design, interior design and architecture. Chiefly noted for her furniture creations, Greta M. Grossman boasts a repertoire of iconic designs such as the Cobra Table Lamp, the revolutionary 62 Series collection and the Gräshoppa Floor Lamp.
Originally designed in 1947, the Gräshoppa Floor Lamp exemplifies the influence European modernism had on Grossman’s designs. In reflecting this aesthetic in her creations, she helped to shape the work of mid-century North American modernist designers.
Alongside being renowned predominantly for her contribution to furniture and lighting design, Grossman regularly lectured at both UCLA and ArtCenter in Pasadena, while also gaining wide acclaim for her work as an accomplished architect. Having designed homes across the globe, Grossman’s work is identified by her unique nuanced understanding of domestic spaces.
Her architectural designs were always ahead of their time and remain so today, thanks to her approach of designing spaces based on how they interact with the user and utilising materials that are not only beautiful, but also fundamentally functional.
Retiring from the Los Angeles design scene in 1966, subsequent lack of recognition meant Grossman was almost demoted to the footnotes of design history. Contentedly spending the final 33 years of her life painting from the home she designed in San Diego, it wasn’t until 2010 that the world rediscovered the splendour of Grossman’s design. The first of many major retrospectives of Grossman’s work took place at the Arkitekturmuseet’s 2010 exhibition in Stockholm, which succeeded in reigniting a passion for Grossman’s work within the design industry and further afield.
Spurred on by another exhibition in Pasadena, Gubi was inspired to reissue a series of Grossman’s most iconic designs. Proving to be as timeless and popular as they were during the 1950s, classics such as the Cobra Floor Light, the 62 Series Desk and the Gräshoppa Floor Lamp can now be found in homes across the globe.