Carl Gustav Magnusson, Designer

Carl Gustav Magnusson is regarded as one of the most acclaimed industrial designers today. Swedish-born and New York-based, Carl has left an indelible mark on a wide range of products with clients such as Knoll, Teknion, the MoMA Design Store and BMW.  Since founding his studio CGM Design in 2005, he has been honored with over 30 awards including the 2012 Design Legend award from Contract Magazine.

After Carl studied engineering at the University of Idaho and architecture at Chalmers Institute of Technology in Sweden, he translated his skills into product design when he began working with Ray & Charles Eames in Venice CA in 1968. Soon after, he opened his eponymous design studio in Rudolf Schindler’s house in West LA, CA, focusing on graphics and photography.

Carl joined Knoll in 1976 where he forged a nearly three-decade career, as Director of Design first in Europe then globally. During his tenure, he grew the manufacturer’s vision and influence, overseeing the design of nearly 100 products. Carl directed the commissioning of renowned talents such as Ross Lovegrove, Maya Lin, Frank Gehry and Ettore Sottsas to create future furniture classics. 

Carl co-founded the Knoll Design Museum in 1997, the most comprehensive archive and exhibit of a single manufacturer. He also initiated the annual Knoll Design Symposium at The Cranbrook Academy of the Arts. For the nine years it ran, the event drew diverse presenters including Emilio Ambasz, Richard Saul Wurman, Stephen Bayley, Arthur Gensler and Lella Vignelli to share their experiences and knowledge with students and the design community. 

Carl continues to engage the contract furniture industry, consult to the automotive industry, as well as lecture at organizations and learning institutions worldwide from Apple’s Cupertino headquarters to high schools in Switzerland.  Carl frequently serves as judge in design competitions and acts as expert witness in legal cases related to design.

“Design is function with cultural content” is Carl’s contemporary definition of design which has been widely adopted.