Artists & Designers

George Nelson (1907-1986)

George Nelson, one of the leading industrial designers of the twentieth century, was particularly known for his interest in novel structural solutions to furniture design, reflective of his study of architecture and interest in European modernism. A 1928 graduate of the School of Architecture at Yale, Nelson’s personal interest in promoting figures such as Walter Gropius, Mies van der Rohe, and Gio Ponti led him to a position with the editorial staff of Architectural Forum in 1935. In 1945, following the death of Herman Miller’s design director Gilbert Rohde, Nelson was hired to fill this key role by the firm’s president, D.J. De Pree. Nelson continued in this capacity until 1972, forming a number of key partnerships with designers including Isamu Noguchi, the Eameses, and Harry Bertoia, among others. A prolific writer and designer, Nelson’s most acclaimed works include the “Marshmallow” sofa (1995.41), “Bubble” lamps (1988.51, 1988.52, 1989.109), “Coconut” chair (1989.54), and “Ball” clocks (1994.255), though the authorship of these designs is now typically shared under the blanket of George Nelson Associates, a firm which included a host of talented designers including Irving Harper and Ettore Sottsass.

Excerpted from

DMA Label Copy, 2008.44.1-2, 2008.

Web Resources

George Nelson Foundation
Explore the George Nelson Foundation.