George Nelson

The American industrial designer, architect, and journalist George Nelson was born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1908. From 1928 until 1931 he attended Yale University, obtaining both a BA and a Bachelor of Fine Arts. From 1932 until 1934 George Nelson studied at the American Academy in Rome, returning to the US in 1935. Between 1944 and 1949 he was an associate editor and then a consultant editor for the journal "Architectural Forum".

As a journalist who wrote for "Pencil Point" magazine among other publications, George Nelson was in a position to acquaint American readers with the European avant-garde. From 1946 until 1972 George Nelson was director of design at Herman Miller. In 1947 George Nelson opened a practice in New York, which became George Nelson & Associates in 1953, with Gordon Chadwick as a partner.

While working for Herman Miller, George Nelson introduced several important innovations in office furniture design. Of his own designs, the 1958 "Swagged Leg Group", which includes the "DAF" and "MAA" chairs, is particularly noteworthy. The back of the "MAA" is flexible and can be adjusted backwards at a 90-degree angle, which is made possible by an innovative new jointed fastener, consisting of steel ball bearings in rubber mounts. In 1946 George Nelson designed "Platform", a simple and functional bench, for Herman Miller. 

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 George Nelson design, with a seat and back made of individual round cushions. In the 1940's and 1950's, George Nelson designed a great many wall clocks for the Howard Miller Clock Company, of which the best known is bound to be "Ball" (1947), with the hours marked by balls of wood.


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