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George Nelson


George Nelson (* 1908 in Hartford/Connecticut; † 1986 in New York) studied architecture at Yale University. A fellowship enabled him to study at the American Academy in Rome from 1932-34. In Europe he became acquainted with the protagonists and major architectural works of modernism. He joined the editorial staff of Architectural Forum in 1935, where he was employed until 1944. A programmatic article on residential building and furniture design, published in Architectural Forum by Nelson in 1944, attracted the attention of D.J. DePree, head of the furniture company Herman Miller. Shortly after this, George Nelson assumed the position of design director at Herman Miller. Remaining there until 1972, he became a key figure of American design, also convincing the likes of Charles & Ray Eames, Isamu Noguchi and Alexander Girard to work for Herman Miller. From 1946 onwards George Nelson also ran his own design office, creating numerous products that are now regarded as icons of mid-century modernism, including his Coconut Chair, Marshmallow Sofa and Home Desk. Additionally, Nelson's range of clocks such as Sunburst Clock, Star Clock or Ball Clock remain classics of their art. George Nelson's collaboration with Vitra began in 1957 and following his death in 1986 his archive passed to the holdings of the Vitra Design Museum.


More about 'George Nelson' in our blog

Blurred Lines or What if Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke designed furniture?

...Konstantin Grcic's 360° Stool for Magis, for example, must be considered more as a development of George Nelson's 1964 Perch in a new material and for a new age, than a new product genre per se, while according to Italian manufacturer Mattiazzi Jasper Morrison's Fionda chair is inspired by a Japanese camping chair owned by Morrison: a quick look at Snow Peak's Take!... George Nelson, The age of modern design, Architectural Record Mid-February 1982 3...

smow blog Design Calendar: March 27th 1886 – Happy Birthday Ludwig Mies van der Rohe!

...When in doubt we invariably turn to the man who has words for every occasion, George Nelson... Following his graduation from Yale University George Nelson won the so-called "Rome Prize", a fellowship awarded by the American Academy in Rome for particularly talented individuals from across a range of disciplines and which, in Nelson's own words, meant "two years in Rome with all expenses covered"1 During his time in Italy Nelson used his status as an Academy Fellow and the associated contacts to arrange interviews with twelve leading European architects, including Giò Ponti, Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius...

smow blog 2014. A pictorial review: December

...And to accompany us Russian avant-garde architecture, reflections on Israeli modernism, the future of seating and the tale of what happened when George Nelson, Isamu Noguchi, Irving Harper and Richard Buckminster-Fuller drunk and drew...

smow blog compact: Isamu Noguchi, George Nelson and the Ball Clock

...As many of you will be aware, for us no post about 20th century American design is complete with the addition of alcohol and George Nelson... And so by way of a reprise to our recent post celebrating Isamu Noguchi's birthday, we present, with thanks to Stanley Abercrombie's ever excellent and easily recommendable George Nelson biography, George Nelson's recollections on Isamu Noguchi and his role in the creation of the famous Ball Clock...

Vitra Design Museum: Lightopia

"My, my, my, Delilah! Why, why, why, Delilah!" The morning of Friday September 27th 2013 was one of those misty autumn occasions that cause SANAA's immense new Vitra Factory Building in Weil am Rhein to merge, almost unseen, with the grey background. Even...


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