Are you sure?

You still have in your basket

If you continue to our gift website, these items will not be present in your new Utility Gift basket.s in your basket won't carry over to the gift site.

However, your Utility Design shopping basket will be saved here for 30 days should you wish to return to it.

Sign Up To The Utility Newsletter For 10% OFF Your First Order

  1. Home
  2. Blog
  3. The Rediscovery of Greta Grossman

The Rediscovery of Greta Grossman

"[As a woman designer], you had to be a step ahead, or else."

Before Gubi reissued her furniture in 2011, Greta Magnusson-Grossman was a forgotten name. However sixty years previously, at the height of her career, she was defying expectations at every turn. After taking up woodworking as a teenager, Greta trained as an apprentice with a furniture manufacturer - she was the only woman in the workshop. In 1928 she was accepted to study at Stockholm School of Industrial Design (Konstfack). Years later, upon her graduation in 1933, she won the Furniture Design Award from the Swedish Society of Industrial Design, was one of the first women to graduate from the school, and set up Studio - a combined shop and workshop. That year, she had also married Billy Grossman, a British jazz musician.

Greta travelled Europe and was influenced by what she saw, particularly the theory of Functionalism - the idea that objects should be designed with only purpose in mind. The Grossmans were well known on the social circuit, holding and attending glittery parties all over Northern Europe. Greta was well known to be charismatic and beautiful - but it was her talent that earned her reputation. She soon acquired world famous clients such as Ingrid Bergman, and dined in the Motta restaurant with Gio Ponti and Le Corbusier.

In 1940, Greta and her musician husband sought refuge from World War Two by immigrating to the USA. Settling in Los Angeles, she immediately set up shop on Rodeo Drive, and within months Greta Garbo and Frank Sinatra were also clients. Greta's mix of Scandinavian style and American modernism was unusual at the time. She had the chance to merge the two styles on a larger scale within her own split-level home in Beverly Hills, where she took the lead as both architect and interior designer.

"...No architect should be allowed to design a kitchen without running a household for a couple of months! Please, keep us from the 'rationalised' kitchens with all their expensive and fancy appliances but without decent cupboards for this and that."

Operating within the male-dominated fields of industrial design and architecture could at times be tough, but despite this, Greta had succeeded in making a name for herself in both the USA and Europe. A lot of her fame can be attributed to three designs in particular. Created in 1948, the Cobra Lamp has a curved snake-like shade. Its flexible, tubular arm was groundbreaking - allowing the lamp to twist and turn into different positions - and it was this that earned it the 1950 'Good Design Award' and a place in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Grässhoppa Lamp is one of Greta's most iconic designs. It's leaning silhouette echoes the legs of a grasshopper, poised and ready to jump. Released in 1952, Greta's collection of furniture including desks, sideboards and chest of drawers was named the 62 Series - deemed to be at least ten years ahead of its time. Despite their materials, the furniture that Greta designed had a light expression: merging mid-century and Scandinavian styles.

Greta retired in 1969 to San Diego with her husband, enjoying the obscurity that living in the hills brought. At the time of her death in 1999, her friends and neighbours were shocked to learn about her successful career and reputation - spanning almost thirty years and two continents. Her legacy was forgotten.


Time for more? Nanna Ditzel and the Story of the Trinidad Chair | The Story Behind the Vernor Panton S Chair |How To Create A Relaxing Home Interior 

Next Working Day Delivery

View UK delivery options

Delivering to 150 Countries

View delivery options

Thank You Messages

I have rarely experienced such excellent quality advice, support and reliability. Your staff communicate effectively and helpfully. I am a truly satisfied customer. I love my String Shelving and I will not hesitate to return to Utility for my next purchase. Thank you!

Oct 24th 2019 | Sarah

Your customer service has been fantastic. I'm seriously impressed. Really pleased to be able to place the bigger order and make your time worthwhile. I think I need to send you a medal!

May 19th 2019 | Jason

I just wanted to express my thanks again for your great customer service. I ordered my items less than 24 hours ago and I’ve amended my order- yet I still have my order here with me now. You went out of your way to deliver my order and I’m very grateful. I wish more places had people like you :-)

May 14th 2019 | Louise

Thanks so much for your extraordinary service. -

Jun 19th 2019 | Maria (US)

Thanks again for such amazing customer service - I have honestly been so impressed by everything! Thank you for doing such a wonderful job

Jun 19th 2019 | Amber

Excellent customer service and immediate response to enquiry (live chat). Very happy every time used Utility both online and on high street.

Jun 28th 2019 | Jo

I couldn't be happier with the custom made sofa bought through the online store. It is perfect and made all the more enjoyable by buying it through the guys at utility. Ben and Paul who delivered the sofa were amazing, kind and really helpful in a difficult situation (of course the lift broke when I was getting something delivered). Would highly recommend!

Aug 13th 2019 | Holly

Just wanted to message and say that I'm a big fan of the Utility Stores and the types of products you guys sell. I work close by to the Manchester store at University Green, so I'm popping in a fair bit generally for cards, gifts, etc. I just nipped in again this afternoon about one product I'd bought earlier and the staff were super helpful and attentive. It made it really easy, and I was in and out in no time.

Aug 13th 2019 | Richard

Just wanted to drop you guys a quick note to say how happy I am with the service I have had. Especially the two guys who delivered/carried into an awkward space/built/then took away the packaging, not to mention then gave me a lift into town. Thank you. Plus the sofa looks amazing. I will definitely be using you guys more in the future and will highly recommend you to anyone who will listen.

Sep 13th 2019 | Luke

Thank you for all your help and customer service, the Eames Lounge Chair arrived yesterday and I love it.

Nov 1st 2019 | Ross

Comment: I just wanted to say that Esther on the checkout in the L1 store made my day today she was so friendly

Dec 9th 2019 | Katy