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Elihu the Elephant

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

Colour Rush! An Installation by Sabine Marcelis at the Vitra Design Museum Schaudepot, Weil am Rhein

...featuring an awful lot of only very rarely seen works by the likes of Charles and Ray Eames, Alessandro Mendini or George Nelson, more probably George Nelson Associates, but a presence of George Nelson (Associates) which genuinely helps expand appreciations of the oeuvre of George Nelson (Associates)... Among those works one can regrettably only view from afar, and from underneath, we make particular note of the so-called Five-Leaf Chair by George Nelson (Associates), Gabriella by Gio Ponti for Walter Ponti or Berta Rahm's 1940 chair for Haus Laueli, a work that was also delegated the highest shelf in Spot On...

#officetour Milestones – A chair "just high enough that one can sit half-standing"

...And, then, and admittedly skimming quicker than one should over the early/mid 20th century, but also missing little of relevance on the way, we arrive in 1964, where and when Herman Miller released their Action Office programme by George Nelson and Robert Probst, an office furniture system that includes a standing height perch, a work that bears an uncanny resemblance, as in 😲, to both that published in Journal der Moden in May 1786 and also to that currently standing in Goethe's Gartenhaus in Weimar... Formally the Action Office perch was more probably the work of George Nelson, or more probably George Nelson Associates, than Robert Probst who was primarily responsible for defining the concept, for framing the question and approaching the solution...

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...

Lost Furniture Design Classics: Coffee Table 4662 by George Nelson for Herman Miller

...Launched in 1946 as part of George Nelson's inaugural furniture collection for leading American designer furniture manufacturer Herman Miller, "Coffee Table 4662" is/was created from birch and combines a copper plant pot holder next to a general storage space hidden below a slideable tabletop, and all presented in an object that is as charmingly formed as it is exquisitely proportioned... In addition to its sublime beauty what makes Coffee Table 4662 so rare and fascinating is that, and as far as our research allows, it is probably one of the few pieces of furniture that was actually, genuinely designed by George Nelson...

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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