DESIGNER WE LOVE : Greta M. Grossman
One of our personal favourites, Greta M. Grossman’s careers spanned decades, successfully flourishing across two continents (Europe and North America).
Beginning her career as a carpenters apprentice at the Core Furniture Manufacturing Company in Helsignborg, moving forward to complete a fellowship at the Stockholm Arts institutions in Konstfack. Her endeavour to achieve something for herself lead to the Swedish Society of Industrial Design to award her with a scholarship to travel throughout Europe in 1934. During her travels she filed reports on her observations on interior design and architecture for the “Women and Home” section of the Swedish paper Nya Dagligt Allehanda.
Also during the period of 1933 - 1934 she and fellow classmate Erik Ullrich opened up Studio, a store combined studio space and workshop.
During her early career Grossman took on numerous design commissions constructing bespoke furniture and interior design layouts. Grossman’s efforts were highly received by her fellows, she gathered abundant press and accolades for many of her designs, most of which were frequently exhibited at Galerie Moderne, in Stockholm. In 1937 she designer a crib for Sweden’s Princess Birgitta which drew much attention when is was entered in a large exhibition at the National Museum in Stockholm.
It was also during this time that she married her lover Jazz Musician Billy Grossman with whom she later emigrated to the United States with, finally settling in 1944 in Los Angeles.
In LA she opened a well publicised store comprising of ‘Modern Swedish Furniture, rug, lamps and other home furnishings’, encouraging multiple famous furniture companies to seek her as a permanent designer. Over the next decade she produced work for the likes of Baker Brothers, Ralph O. Smith & Co, Sherman Bertman, MArtin/Brattrud, Modern Line and Glenn of California for which she produced her most sophisticated works. Each piece she constructed were characterised by the material she sourced, often using rich colourful textures. Grossman had a way of combining the intensity of timber such as Californian Walnut with black plastic laminates or wrought iron, giving a surprisingly elegant and sophisticated finish. It was these techniques as well as her petite proportions versus asymmetrical lines that best characterise her work as set her apart from other contemporaries.
Her most iconic products include the Grashoppa Floor Lamp and the Cobra Floor and Table lamps. The Cobra lamp winning her the Good Design Award and was subsequently exhibited at the Good Design Show as well as the Museum of Modern Art.
Greta garnered such esteem in the design world that she attracted many celebrity clients such as the likes of Greta Garbo, Joan Fontaine and Gracie Allen for which she designed exclusive pieces . These famous connections would lead her to a number of other interior design projects and commissions both for her own store and for Baker Brothers’ Modern Shop which she help to launch in 1947.
Between 1949 and 1959 Greta Grossman designed up to 14 homes in the Los Angeles area, one in San Francisco and one in her native Sweden. To this day at least 10 of these properties still exist. Her architecture designs tendered to be for difficult properties that others saw as futile to design elegantly for. Many of her buildings are perched on Stilts on the peaks of hills or cliffs, overlooking canyons or forests. These structures boast magnificent views through massive panels or walls of glass, featuring custom built-in shelving and a open free flow floor plan often popular at the time.
Her achivements vary in size but her elegant form continues to shine through all of her designs. In 1952 the United States department of State was so impressed by her works, that they distributed an article about her life in the United States to over 75 different countries. The distribution helped to present the Governments depiction “of the true picture… of the American way of life”. After this Greta began to teach Industrial Design courses at the University of California and at the Art Centre School in Los Angeles.
Greta M. Grossman retired from Design and Architecture in the late 1960s.
Enzo Mari - Product + Furniture Designer (1932-)
Here is a man that we at Lizotti think you should take the time to get to know.
Born in Novara, Italy in 1932, his attitude to design was primarily theoretical, to the point of being far too obscure to attained commercial success that other fellow late 20th century Italian designers received. A man deeply concerned with contemporary culture and a furniture’s relationship to the user rather than practicality saw his designs become popular with his design peers more so than with the general public.
With a background in classical literature from the Academia di Brera in Milan he forged a foundation for himself as a visual artist. It was during 1952 to 1956 that he began to be interested in design and became determined to teach himself the art of product and Furniture design. During this time Mari struggled for income like most designers and turned to a plastic manufacturer (Danese)to earn a living as a product designer.
He began with small projects such as problem solving puzzles. His first being 16 Animali (16 Animals), which he launched to the general public in 1957 for Danese. He would continue to work alongside Danese for many years, developing small objects which were both beautiful to touch, feel as well as visually beautiful.
Mari defined his work as being “elaborated or constructed in a way that corresponds entirely to the purpose or function”.
In 1962, he began to work with plastic in which he spent many years developing numerous household items such as hat stands, baskets and calendars. One of his greatest achievements working a Danese was the construction of a reversible Vase that (model 3087) which was so beautifully constructed and moulded that it achieved great success, thereby turning the public away from the idea that plastic items were too cheap and offensive to be considered beautiful or as sculpture.
Mari continued to be experimental in his work in other areas of visual art, founding th Nuova Tendenza Group of Artists in Milan in 1963.
Moving in and out of favour during the 1980’s and 1990’s Enzo Mari remains an influential designer through the 20th century. In 2001 he published his book titled “Progetto e Passione” (Project and Passion) in which he analyses design on the wider cultural landscape.
Now in his 70’s Mari continues to design extensively for Japan homeware store Muji. Gebruder Thonet (Vienna) also commissioned him to replicate and design modern versions of their bentwood chairs.
Enzo Mari continues to collaborate with design firms such as Artemide, Castelli, Danese, Driage, Gabbianelli, interflex. Lema, Magis as well as Zanotta.
Enzo’s work continues to be a fluid passage between his radical ideas and the simplicity of design. We are fond of his ability to be graceful with the most basic of materials and we anticipate that this old modern soul has a lot of design left in him!
Nu Disco sounds. Sure to brighten your Tuesday Blues.
A design company that specializes in the fabrication of kinetic furniture, lighting and robotic installations, RockPaperRobot‘s innovative Float Table is a matrix of “magnetized” wooden cubes that levitate with respect to one another. The repelling cubes are held in together by a system of taut steel cables. Classical physics applied to modern design, each handcrafted table is meticulously tuned to appear rigid and stable, although a simple touch reveals otherwise.
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