“(California design) is not a superimposed style, but an answer to present conditions. It has developed out of our own preference for living in a modern way.” —Gretta Grossman
Greta Magnusson Grossman often appeared alongside midcentury greats. She designed houses, interiors, and furniture, and gained a loyal and following that remains to this day.
Though she never gained the same level of fame as that of many of her contemporaries, she maintained a prolific forty-year career on two continents, Europe and North America, with achievements in industrial design, interior design, and architecture. Her work is remains admired and sought after by people around the world.
Greta Magnusson Grossman was a Swedish born architect and designer. When she landed in California in 1940, she declared that she needed “a car and some shorts.” As a new immigrant, it was the most American idea she could think of. At this point, Grossman was already an accomplished interior designer in her native land of Sweden.
She’d taken on numerous commissions in Stockholm, designing unique furniture and interiors. She’d garnered abundant press attention and accolades, and her work was exhibited frequently at “Galerie Moderne”, a cultural mecca in Stockholm at the time.
In 1937, for a large group exhibition at the National museum in Stockholm, Grossman designed a crib for Sweden’s Princess Birgitta. This work became famous, and drew much attention in the press for Greta Grossman.
After moving to the United States with her husband, Grossman then went onto achieve acclaim for her shop in Beverly Hills. She even began attracting celebrity clients, such as Greta Garbo, Joan Fontaine, and Gracie Allen.
Greta began making connections that led to a number of projects, both from her own shop and from Barker Brothers’ Modern Shop, launched in 1947. Over the next twenty years she produced work for companies like:
- Glenn of California
- Sherman Bertram
- Modern Line
The work for Glenn of California, some of her best known, is characterized by the materials she used. These included rich, colorful textiles and woods like California walnut paired in surprising and elegant combination with black plastic laminate and wrought iron. The uniquely petite proportions and asymmetrical lines of her furniture also set her work apart.