You may not be familiar with the name George Nelson
Nelson's remarkable career spanned 50 years and included success as an architect, author, publisher, teacher, and designer. His work was based on the perspective of finding solutions to the problems of modern life, and the concepts on which he based his designs remain as popular and vital today as they were during the mid century years.
Though remembered by most for his enduring designs in home furnishings and accessories, Nelson actually played a seminal role in developing the modern view of what a home is and how it should work. In his book 'Tomorrow's House', which he co-authored with Henry Wright, he introduced the concept of the family room.
He also pioneered the idea of the storage wall, forever changing the way we utilize interior spaces. Creating modular wall storage provided a way for homeowners to revel in post-war prosperity while maintaining the clean, uncluttered look characteristic of modernism.
However the remarkable furniture and accessories Nelson designed remain his most lasting legacy. Working with the renowned Herman Miller company throughout the mid century period, Nelson introduced a totally new way of looking at home furnishing. His designs combined the sleek, uncluttered simplicity of modernism with a whimsical touch all his own.
Many of Nelson's most famous designs remain as popular today as they were during the mid-century period. Some of his best-known designs, like the ones shown below, continue to be manufactured and are available through leading retailers.
The Marshmallow Sofa
Created for Herman Miller in 1956, the Marshmallow Sofa became one of the icons of the period. Created of 18 apparently free-floating cushions strategically affixed to a streamlined metal frame, the sofa combined comfort and efficiency in a revolutionary new style.
This lighthearted take on seating, which was one of the forerunners of the 1960s pop art movement, is still manufactured today.
The Coconut Chair
The iconic Coconut Chair, also created for Herman Miller and introduced in the mid-fifties, is among Nelson's best known designs. Named for its resemblance to a quartered coconut, the chair consists of a curved, cushioned triangular shell perched on a simple metal framework.
A complete departure from pre-war furniture styles, the Coconut Chair introduced the sleek lines and minimalist aesthetic that became the hallmark of mid-century design. The chair's remarkable comfort makes it a perennial retro modern furniture favorite, and its simple styling makes it a perfect addition to any modern room.
The Nelson Bench
The Nelson Bench, a precise geometric arrangement of pale wood slats on an open yet sturdy square base, was introduced in 1948. A true multipurpose design, the bench could serve as seating, platform, or table, and was constructed to provide maximum durability and efficiency while maintaining a light and airy look. The Nelson Bench is a ubiquitous part of both public and private decor today.
Nelson's innovative designs in home accessories, particularly his oversized, stylized wall clocks, quickly became icons of retro modern furniture and mid century style. His Sunburst Clocks, Starburst Clocks, and Ball Clocks are still widely available.