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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

George Nelson

George Nelson (1908-1986) is considered one of the founders of American modernism.  He studied architecture at Yale University and art history at the Catholic University of America, and, along with Eliot Noyes, Charles Eames and Walter B. Ford, he won the Rome prize for architecture in 1932. Despite his architectural training, however, Nelson found few building projects during the Depression and World War II years and began focusing on furniture, industrial and exhibition design.

Nelson traveled throughout Europe and subsequently met several of the early European modernists. Through his writing in “Pencil Points,” he introduced Walter Gropius, Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier and Gio Ponti to the American public.

His “storagewall” units, widely publicized through a 1945 issue of
Life magazine, doubled as room dividers, redefining the concept of the office. Herman Miller subsequently recruited him, where he served as design director from 1946 to 1965.

During his tenure there, Nelson brought many fine designers to the Herman Miller, including Charles and Ray Eames, Isamu Noguchi, Harry Bertoia, Alexander Girard and Buckminster Fuller. Nelson and the talented designers working for him produced many milestone designs during this time, including the whimsical marshmallow sofa, the coconut chair, the Catenary furniture group, the slat bench and a line of clocks and bubble lamps.

Many iconic designs came out of Nelson's own design firm. As was customary, he received credit...and still does...for the work done by designers employed by his firm.


Marshmallow sofa

Catenary chairs

Spindle clock

Slat bench

 Coconut chair

George Nelson with a display of bubble lamps
from a 1952 copy of Interiors Magazine

Update: 11/24/2013 - I recently ran across this photo of George Nelson that I had never seen before. It's the first really good informal shot of him I've ever seen, and I think it's my new favorite.

1 comment:

  1. I have ALWAYS wanted a coconut chair. It and the diamond chair by Bertoia. Best chairs ever!