USA, 1908 – 1986
An industrial designer, architect, and journalist George Nelson was born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1908. He attended Yale University and from 1932 until 1934 Nelson studied at the American Academy in Rome, returning to the US in 1935. From 1946 until 1972 George Nelson was director of design at Herman Miller. While working for Herman Miller, Nelson introduced several important innovations in office furniture design. The 1958 Swag Leg Group included tables, chairs and desks. In 1946 George Nelson designed Platform, a simple and functional bench for Herman Miller and it is still a mainstay in their collection.
The best known George Nelson designs include the 1955 Coconut Chair, with a triangular seat inspired by a piece of coconut shell. The 1956 Marshmallow sofa is another revolutionary design, with a seat and back made of individual round cushions. In the 1940s and 1950s, George Nelson designed a series of wall clocks for the Howard Miller Clock Company, of which the best known is the Ball clock, with the hours marked by balls of wood. A mid-century classic, the Bubble Lamps, were designed by George Nelson in 1947 and produced by Howard Miller starting in the early 1950s and ending in 1979. Modernica, a Los Angeles-based manufacturer, now produces them.
While at Herman Miller, Nelson set new standards of design in all aspects of the company and in doing so he pioneered the practice of corporate image management, graphic programs and signage.