Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Considered one of the founders of American Modernism George Nelson (1904-1986) was an industrial designer, architect, author, editor and teacher. Although he studied architecture at Yale, for nearly two decades (1930’s & 40’s) Nelson dazzled many not by his drafting abilities but rather his eloquent writing style covering modern architecture and design; he was published in multiple publications perhaps most memorably “Architectural Forum” and “Pencil Points”. Living in Rome for a year as the prize for winning the Rome Prize for Architecture competition he traveled interviewing such masters as Mies van der Rohe. Through his writing in “Pencil Points” Nelson later introduced the work of Walter Gropius, Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier and Gio Ponti to North America. In addition to which he helped legitimize and stimulate the field of industrial design by the creation of the publication Industrial Design in the early 1950’s.
Nelson later would be recruited by the Herman Miller Company as Director of Design for reasons of his insight in how to best make useful furniture. Apparently this was the result of HM’s chairman having read a particular literary piece by Nelson entitled “Tomorrow’s House”. Nelson is responsible for such furniture designs as the Coconut chair, Marshmallow sofa, Swag Leg collection, and Slat bench just to name a few during this tenure at HM. In addition one can find an extensive array of vintage Nelson furnishings on www.1stdibs.com. In collaboration with the Howard Miller Clock company Nelson’s firm George Nelson Associates also designed a wonderful series of clocks which today are reproduced in part by Vitra www.vitra.com.
When writing about the course of his remarkable 50-year career, George Nelson described a series of creative "zaps"--moments of out-of-the-blue inspiration "when the solitary individual finds he is connected with a reality he never dreamed of". *
* Excerpt from www.hermanmiller.com
images:(click on images to enlarge)
Marshmallow sofa for Herman Miller (top)
Coconut chair for Herman Miller, vintage (2nd),
Slat bench for Herman Miller (3rd)
Sunburst wall clock for Vitra (4th)
Swag leg chair, desk, work table for Herman Miller (bottom)