[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
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.
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