George Nelson

Sorry guys been MIA for a while working on some design projects! Today I would like to talk to you about my favorite all-time mid century designer, George Nelson. He doesn’t get as much recognition as Charles & Ray Eames or Mies van der Rohe but it doesn’t mean he was any less brilliant.

George Nelson was multi-talented and excelled at everything he did. His diversity ranged from being an author and architect, to industrial designer and even a teacher. He was at the forefront of mid-century modernism and led the revolution in American modernism. His iconic Coconut Chair will never date and has a place in both an office setting and in the home. The Coconut Chair can be purchased through Herman Miller. Though very similar replicas of the coconut chair can be found online.


Nelson’s clean lines brought an angularity to functional furniture which identified the modernist trend perfectly. The sharpness of the angles was tempered by more flowing lines, so clearly represented by the Marshmallow Sofa. It is clear that this piece of furniture has never and will never date and has an enduring appeal for young and old. Although Nelson took credit for its design, it was actually another designer in his office, Irving Harper, who should have received the accolades.

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As with the other modernist designers, Nelson wasn’t afraid to use industrial materials in his design. Metal mesh and stainless steel didn’t escape his expert eye and were incorporated into a number of his designs. He married wood and leather with steel to produce comfortable yet functional furniture that could be married to existing décor elements.

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Nelson also found inspiration in traditional furniture and adapted it to the modernist trend.


Nelson was dismissive of the Office Cubicle but was right there to take advantage of the changing business needs, which was to wedge as many workers into the least amount of space. He designed furniture around this increasingly smaller workspace to optimise what little space there was. As with the Marshmallow Sofa, Nelson took full credit for this design and also won the Alcoa Award for its innovative design.

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Nelson’s design firm designed a number of items for the Herman Miller design company which marketed the items under their own name. Amongst those items were numerous wall clocks and the iconic Bubble Lamp.

BallClock PetalClock TwoClocks

Ikea’s idea of furniture that could be shipped all over the world and which the buyer can assemble himself, didn’t pass Nelson by. He reimagined traditionally bulky items so that they could be easily transported and put together at home. The design from over fifty years ago is perfect for today’s requirements for functional home office desks and chairs. Running your business from home can still be done stylishly without having to revert to the usual mass-produced melamine monstrosities.


The bedroom didn’t escape Nelson’s attention either. Bed designs became cleaner to do away with any possibly of clutter that was so easily shoved under the bed. With this cleaner look, bed linen had to evolve from quilted bedcovers to crisply tucked-in linens.


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