10 September 2011

spotlight on...George Nelson

image courtesy of Herman Miller

George Nelson (1908-1986) was one of the most innovative and influential mid-century modernist designers and architects, well known for furniture designs such as the Platform Bench and the Coconut Chair.  But did you know he was also one of the first designers who thought about sustainability in design? Nelson felt that designers must be "aware of the consequences of their actions on people and society and thus cultivate a broad base of knowledge and understanding." Nelson himself certainly followed this principle. His ultimate goal as a designer was "to do much more with much less”. He sought an environment that was clean of pollutants, and also one that was visually, audibly and chemically clean.

Nelson Platform Bench by Herman Miller
Nelson BCS Three Drawer 

Nelson’s designs were also functional, flexible and straightforward. Along with the concept of using fewer materials, this may be why his designs are still extremely popular today. Many of his pieces are still being produced: classics like his Platform Bench, designed for Herman Miller in 1946; the Nelson BCS three drawer basic cabinet; the Nelson Swag Leg Desk; and the Nelson Coconut Chair. 
Nelson Swag Leg Desk 

Popularity today no doubt is due to the functionality of the pieces for today’s lifestyle.  We live at a fast pace and want our furniture to make our lives easier and more comfortable. Take the Swag Leg Desk, for example. Its reintroduction by Herman Miller was driven by the propensity for using laptops and wanting a simple and stylish desk to put it on.  Nelson didn’t know it, but he created today’s perfect workstation.
Nelson Coconut Chair
As today’s masses become more and more concerned, rightfully so, with sustainability and functionality, we can look to the past to rediscover simplicity of form along with ease of use… and Nelson pieces that are sustainable into the 21st Century.


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  2. Terrific, interesting post! I've always loved me a little mid-century modern :-) The platform bench has always been a fave!


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