George Nelson Ceramic Clocks

Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 in B minor.

The Trial by Franz Kafka.

Madonna and Child with St John and Angels by Michelangelo.

Although there are always ethical and stylistic questions concerning the completion of unfinished works, in principle it is always a joy to see someone who cares as much as the original artist complete a project.

And so hats off to the Vitra Design Museum for it’s decision to finally bring George Nelson’s Ceramic Clocks onto the market.

George Nelson, designer.

George Nelson, designer.

In 1945 George Nelson joined the renowned Herman Miller company as creative director and in 1947 started designing clocks for Howard Miller.

And yes they are related.

Howard was Herman’s son and had learned both the art of clock making and an appreciation for the beauty of the craft in the Miller’s native Black Forest, Germany. The spiritual home of cuckoo clocks.

In 1923 Herman was persuaded by his son-in-law D.J. De Pree to invest in the Michigan Star Furniture Company, thus forming the Herman Miller Furniture Company. In 1926 Howard persuaded his father to start a separate clock company and the Howard Miller Clock Company was born. Today the two companies HQs remain next door to each other but they are both fully independent companies.

George Nelson Ceramic Clock Model 1

George Nelson Ceramic Clock Model 1

Nelson’s first clock for Howard Miller was the Ball Clock in 1948, a design that, if we may say so, still looks as fresh and exciting as it did over 60 years ago.

Over the next two decades Nelson designed an incomparable range of wall clocks, desk clocks and children’s clock, the so called Zoo Timer range for Howard Miller.

In the early 1950s Nelson also designed a range of ceramic desk clocks for Howard Miller, and although these were brought up to a “production ready” state, never entered production.

With the acquisition of the rights to produce George Nelson’s “Herman Miller” works, Vitra also received the rights to George Nelson’s clocks and still produce classics such as the Eye Clock, Sunflower Clock or Pill Clock under the Vitra Design Museum re-editions label.

In addition to owing the rights to Nelsons work, Vitra also posses George Nelson’s archive including original sketches, models plans, notes and letters.

George elson Ceramic Clock Model 2

George Nelson Ceramic Clock Model 2

Using this archive the Vitra Design Museum has now made George Nelson’s ceramic clocks available for the first time.

Much softer than many of his metal clocks, we’re particularly impressed with how much Model 2 looks like Lisa Simpson.The George Nelson Ceramic Clock’s are made of glazed porcelain and come with a quartz movement including a rechargeable battery.

And for us we also find it fitting that clocks created by one of the most influential figures in 20th century clock design, for a passionate clock maker from southern Germany, should finally see the light of day through a passionate designer furniture producer also from southern Germany.

In many way George Nelson’s clocks have come home.
And thankfully without a cuckoo.

All George Nelson’s clocks can be purchased through smow.

George Nelson Ceramic Clock Model 3

George Nelson Ceramic Clock Model 3

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