GRETA MAGNUSSON GROSSMAN: A Marvelous Designer and an Extraordinary Woman

Greta Grossman Series 62 Desk - photo by Hive Modern

The Swedish architect, interior designer, and furniture designer, Greta Magnusson Grossman was born on July 21, 1906, in Helsingborg of Sweden. She was among the few female designers to be celebrated in the architectural scene in Los Angeles during the mid-twentieth century.

Greta Magnusson was exposed to the European Modernism early enough and this exposure was what actually influenced her later architectural achievements and work, which was looked at as a mixture of both European thoughts as well as the culture and way of life in Southern California.

The Early Life and Education of Greta Magnusson Grossman

Greta M. Grossman – photo by Gubi

As mentioned earlier, Magnusson-Grossman who hailed from the family of Swedish cabinetmakers was born in Helsingborg, Sweden on July 21, 1906. She became a woodworking apprentice with a furniture producer when she finished her studies.

Magnusson-Grossman was the only female in the wood workshop in Helsingborg for the duration of her apprenticeship. This woman acknowledged the shortcomings of being a feminine artist and affirmed that she must succeed by making history on the field. It was on this note that she determined within herself to stand out from the crowd, and step ahead of others, or else.

As a result, Magnusson pursued a career in Furniture Design in the year 1928. Upon graduation, she didn’t relent but went for further studies at the Stockholm Royal Academy of Technology to read architecture.

Award and Marriage

Cobra Lamp by Greta M. Grossman – photo by

Magnusson-Grossman was honoured with the Furniture Design award in 1933, making her the first woman to win the award.

She won her second award in Combination Furniture, the group of a furniture contest organised and sponsored by the Stockholm Craft Association. She also made history by becoming the first woman to ever win in this contest since its inauguration.

Grossman was also given the Good Design award for the Cobra lamp she designed. She won the award in 1950.

She got married to Billy Grossman who was a jazz musician and his band leader in that same 1933. Billy and Magnusson Grossman had no children from their marriage of many years.

Job Career of Greta Magnusson Grossman

Greta Magnusson Grossman gained brief employment with a company in Stockholm. However, she later established her own Studio Company in the early parts of the 1930s. At her Studio Firm, Magnusson Grossman designed and manufactured furniture and accessories.

Furniture and Lighting Modernism in Los Angeles

Greta Grossman Side Table – photo by Incollect

This Swedish architect, interior designer, and furniture designer, Greta Magnusson Grossman left the shore of Sweden for Los Angeles with her husband in the midst of the Second World War of 1940, where both of them established a new Magnussen-Grossman Studio on Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles.

This particular studio focused mostly on furniture and lighting design, selling to individuals, and also engaged in the selling and distribution of these products to quite a lot of renowned furniture companies.

Her furniture was distinguished by its matchless mixture of materials and willowy magnitude.  Her work received the attention of Hollywood consumers, while she also designed interiors for many notable personalities and stars like Ingrid Bergman and Garbo Greta.

As far as the experimental architecture world is concerned, this woman was a prominent figure all through the 1960s. On the other hand, she was influenced by the Bauhaus and European Modernists, as well as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Gropius Walter.

The split-level house sited in Beverly Hills and owned by Magnusson Grossman was the first project that encouraged this woman to operate as both an architect and interior designer in 1943. As an architect, this split-level house was a major step forward for her and was featured in the prominent and high-ranking Arts & Architecture magazine of John Entenza.

Greta Grossman, Rare Studio Curved Sofa in Collection of Nationalmuseum, 1938 – photo by

Magnusson’s houses were on the lighter side of about 1,500 square feet and were cautiously crafted with materials such as glass and wood.

The project and work of this woman architect and designer echoed both the International Style of fellow European émigrés with the well-ventilated, open-plan housing of the Case Study program architects. Magnusson Grossman designed a total of fourteen different houses in Los Angeles alone, between 1949 and 1959.

With this development, she became famous for constructing buildings on complicated plots, many of them below 1,500 square feet and having intricate landscapes on the hillsides. Magnusson Grossman later worked with the dominant Southern California designers.

Fourteen out of her sixteen built projects and houses were situated in Los Angeles, one in her Sweden native home, and another one in San Francisco.

Professional Career of Grossman

Magnusson Grossman became a lecturer and professor in Furniture Design at UCLA between 1957 and 1963.


Rare Double cone floor lamp, sold for $37,500 – photo by Los Angeles Modern Auctions | Lot 90

Grossman left the architectural industry in Los Angeles in the year 1966 and moved to a building she designed in Encinitas, North of San Diego with her husband. It was in relative obscurity and printing landscapes that Grossman spent the last 30 years of her life. A trade fair of her work came into view in 2010, and the 2012 Pasadena show marked the first career presentation of her work.

Today, a lot of the houses designed by this woman have been bulldozed, even though about ten of them are still left, plus the Jim Backus House, Frances Nelson Houses, and the Hurley House.

One of the aluminium and brass lamps designed by Grossman was sold for as much as $37,500 at an auction in 2012. This revealed a confirmation for her furniture pieces.

One of the 20th Century companies reviewed a catalogue of the work of Grossman in 1999. Pierre Koenig who was a Los Angeles architect was informed about the interest of the company and sent a number of a legendary architectural photographer to take photographs of the work of Grossman at the pinnacle of her fame in the 1940s and 1950s.

This particular company trailed and documented a large amount of the work of Grossman, following the discovery of this collection.

The Demise of Greta Magnusson Grossman

Magnusson Grossman, the great architect, interior designer, and furniture designer from Sweden died in August 1999 at the age of 93 years.