The Grasshopper floor lamp and Grasshopper table lamp — prized for their innovative flexible arms and elegant conical shades — are the work of Greta Magnusson-Grossman (1906–99), a Scandinavian modernist trailblazer. Years prior to the debut of her sleek lighting line for legendary Los Angeles home furnishings retailer Barker Bros., the Swedish architect, interior designer and furniture designer was shattering her industry’s unmistakable gender barriers. She was the first woman to win the Furniture Design award from the Swedish Society of Industrial Design and was among the Stockholm School of Industrial Design’s first female graduates.
Magnusson-Grossman emigrated to California with her husband in 1940 and opened a small studio in Beverly Hills. Enthusiasm for Scandinavian design was broadening in America, and in a clever marketing move, Magnusson-Grossman proudly promoted her Scandinavian roots in an advertisement for her wares. Later, when she devised the understated Grasshopper lamps for Barker Bros., more clever marketing lay ahead: The Southern California homes that Magnusson-Grossman designed back then — often photographed for shelter magazines — were outfitted with her fixtures for all to see. Her lamps, the shades of which can be shifted on their brass hinges to direct light according to preference, are still alluring and often imitated today. The Grasshopper series is manufactured by Gubi.
Designer and architect Greta Magnusson-Grossman first gained fame in her native Sweden, where she established her store and workshop and became the first woman to receive a prize for furniture design from the Swedish Society of Industrial Design. In 1940, she married jazz musician Billy Grossman and moved to Los Angeles.
Upon her arrival in Southern California, she opened the Magnusson-Grossman Studio on Rodeo Drive and rapidly became popular among the Hollywood elite, including Greta Garbo and Gracie Allen. In addition to creating iconic furniture and lighting — like the Grasshopper series for Barker Bros. or the Cobra lamp for Ralph O. Smith — Magnusson-Grossman designed 14 homes in the Los Angeles area inspired by the Case Study Houses. Combining her Scandinavian roots with laid-back West Coast style, she became a notable contributor to California modernism.