News & Design Blog

Designer Spotlight: Greta M. Grossman (1906-1999)


Greta M. Grossman



Reflecting back on the products that have paved the way in the past is an important part of design here at PDG. A few are now so familiar that it is easy to take for granted just how innovative their designers once were. Products that we believe fall firmly in to that category are the ‘Cobra’ and ‘Grasshopper’ lamps by Swedish designer Greta Magnusson Grossman. Here we take a little look at the influential female designer and how she has affected the industry to this day.

A Prolific Career

As one of the first ever women to graduate from Stockholm’s School of Industrial Design in 1931, she then soon became the first ever woman to receive an award from the Swedish Society of Industrial Design just two years later for her furniture designs. Popular both in Europe and in the US (where she emigrated in 1940 with jazz musician husband, Billy Grossman) her pieces were set apart with her asymmetric, playful designs and non-traditional combinations of wood, wrought iron and plastic.


Desk, c. 1952

Grossman’s career was at its height from the 1940s- 1960s, just as modernism was beginning to influence the design industry and new target markets were emerging. As Design Within Reach explain,

‘Grossman’s compact, functional and visually lightweight modern aesthetic appealed to a previously ignored but ever-growing demographic: single, savvy, career-minded women’.

Reflecting her acclaim, in 1950 she received the Museum of Modern Art Good Design award for her ‘Cobra’ lamp. Still popular today and with many other products clearly influenced by it, the flexible arm and 360 degree rotating metal shade allows the user to position the light exactly as necessary. The timeless aesthetic ensures it still fits in with many modern households, with its simple yet innovative design.


‘Cobra’ lamp, c.1948


Grossman is also famous for her tubular steel, ‘Grasshopper’ floor lamps. With an elegant, lightweight frame and rotating conical shade that, again, angles the light where necessary, this lamp would too fit in to many modern interiors. Although first produced back in 1947, the design has recently been reissued by Gubi, a Danish manufacturer, along with the Cobra lamps.


‘Grasshopper’ floor lamp, c. 1947

Later Life

Greta M. Grossman was a woman of many talents, and after a career spanning architecture, industrial design and interior design she disappeared from the industry in the late 60s and spent her last few decades in the small beach community of Encinitas as an artist before her death in 1999.


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