George Nelson (1908-1986) was an American industrial designer, architect and journalist who developed an innovative line of furniture that remains popular to this day. Nelson is considered one of the founding fathers of American modernism, and his work is recognized for cutting across the fields of interior, industrial and exhibition design.
George Nelson furniture is often characterized as reflective of Fifties design. His pieces are known for their unique shapes, functional designs and innovative concepts.
Some of his most popular and enduring designs include:
View our complete collection of George Nelson modern classic furniture to view more pieces by this iconic designer.
“The Creator of Beautiful and Practical Things”
George Nelson was born in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1908. He studied architecture at Yale University and obtained both a BA and a Bachelor of Fine Arts. He then studied at the American Academy in Rome. Nelson returned to the United States in 1935, and from 1944-1949 he was an editor for the journal “Architectural Forum.” He also wrote for multiple other publications, including the magazine “Pencil Point.”
For the bulk of his career, Nelson served as director of design at Herman Miller Furniture Company in Zeeland, Michigan. In this position he was able to commission new designs from others, as well as come up with an innovative furniture line of his own. During his time at Herman Miller he set new standards for how design would be incorporated into the company’s activities. Basically, he turned design into the driving force behind the business.
Throughout his career Nelson consistently defended the principles of modernism, a factor that really made him stand out against a sea of colleagues who were much more of industrial designers.
Because of the unique designs and innovative materials that stand behind George Nelson furniture, he is often recognized as “The Creator of Beautiful and Practical Things.”
During his career as a journalist, architect and furniture designer, George Nelson attracted a great deal of attention, due in large part to several innovative concepts he launched. He wrote a book entitled Tomorrow’s House, in which he introduced the concept of the family room. He also came up with the idea of a storage wall, something which impressed Herman Miller’s president and was actually a driving force behind his appointment as the company’s director of design.
It is said by some that George Nelson is one of the most articulate, eloquent and influential voices of design and architecture in 20th century United States. He wrote extensively about his ideas, organized conferences for people in the industry, published several books and developed a truly unique line of furniture that includes enduring designs such as the marshmallow sofa and the coconut chair.
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