Greta Grossman (1906-1999) had a diverse career spanning product design, interior design and architecture. Working in Los Angeles in the 1940s and 1950s, she counted Greta Garbo, Frank Sinatra and Joan Fontaine among her clients and her work contributed to the modernist aesthetic that dominated postwar Californian design.
Today she is probably best known for her Gräshoppa lamp. First produced in 1947, it has a conical aluminium shade above a powdered steel tripod stand that is tilted slightly backwards. Lithe and leggy, it is reminiscent of the insect that inspired it.
Grossman exhibited her work in museums worldwide, including the MoMA in New York. In the 1950s she founded an architecture practice that designed homes across California and Sweden. But by the mid-1960s she had stopped working and over time she faded from the public eye.
Growing up in Sweden in the 1920s, Grossman took up woodwork, a predominantly male pursuit at the time. She became one of the first women to graduate from the Stockholm School of Industrial Design before opening a design store in the city called Studio. During the second world war she and her husband, jazz player Billy Grossman, emigrated to the US and settled in LA, where Grossman opened a store in Rodeo Drive.
“There is a playful, natural aspect to her designs but she also has clear roots in the functional Scandinavian design ethos,” says Jacob Gubi, chief executive of Swedish company Gubi, which reissued the Gräshoppa lamp in 2011 (priced £579 and available at nest.co.uk).