George Nelson (USA, 1908-1986)

Architect, designer, and writer, George Nelson was a central figure in the mid-century American modernist design movement; and his thoughts influenced not only the furniture we live with, but also how we live.

     Nelson came to design via journalism and literature. Upon receiving his bachelor’s degree in architecture from Yale in 1931, he won the Prix de Rome fellowship, and spent his time in Europe writing magazine articles that helped bring stateside recognition to Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Gio Ponti, Le Corbusier and other canonical modernist architects. In the 1940s, Nelson wrote texts that suggested such now-commonplace ideas as open-plan houses, storage walls and family rooms. D.J. Depree, the owner of the furniture maker Herman Miller Inc., was so impressed by Nelson that in 1944 — following the sudden death of Gilbert Rohde, who had introduced the firm to modern design in the 1930s — he invited Nelson to join the company as its design director.

     There Nelson’s curatorial design talents came to the fore. To Herman Miller he brought such eminent creators as Charles and Ray Eames, Isamu Noguchi, and the textile and furniture designer Alexander Girard. Thanks to a clever contract, at the same time as he directed Herman Miller he formed a New York design company, George Nelson & Associates, that sold furniture designs to the Michigan firm, as well as its competitor, the Howard Miller Clock Company. Nelson’s New York team of designers (who were rarely individually credited) would create such iconic pieces as the “Marshmallow” sofa, the “Coconut” chair, the “Ball” clock, the “Bubble” lamp series and the many cabinets and beds that comprise the sleek “Thin-Edge” line.

     For dedicated collectors, as well as for interior designers who look beyond “the look,” there is a “cool-factor” inherent to vintage pieces from George Nelson and others. Nelson was in on it from the start, and it’s valuable to have a piece that was there with him. But still, as is evident from the offerings from dealers on these pages, in any of the designs, in any iteration whose manufacture Nelson oversaw and encouraged, there are shining elements of lightness, elegance, sophistication —and a little bit of swagger. George Nelson felt confident in his ideas about design and didn’t mind letting the world know.

Read more about George Nelson in Introspective Magazine

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Rare George Nelson Executive Home Desk, 1940s
Bridges Over Time
Rare George Nelson Executive Home Desk, 1940s
George Nelson
Vintage 1940s American Mid-Century Modern Desks
A somewhat rare executive home desk designed by George Nelson in the late 1940s. For the time it was a stunning design and is still relative today. We acquired this desk from the origin...
George Nelson for Herman Miller Four-Seat Sling So...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Sofas
Chrome, Leather, Rubber
Rare four seat version of the George Nelson sling sofa manufactured by Herman Miller. Beautifully reupholstered in tan leather. The original tubular chrome frame is in excellent conditi...
George Nelson Secretary and Chest of Drawers for H...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Mid-20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Secretaires
Laminate, Metal, Steel, Wood
This circa 1950s secretary and chest of drawers, designed by George Nelson for Herman Miller, includes white laminate top, over three drawers and upper drop front desk in walnut, with m...
Four-Bay Walnut "Omni" Shelving System by George N...
George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Shelves
Aluminum, Bakelite, Glass, Walnut
Incredible four-bay Omni unit includes verical five support bars, three plain shelves, an additional shelf has built-in bookends. Unit has two cabinets with a pair of doors, one set of ...
George Nelson for Herman Miller Swag Leg Walnut Di...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
2010s American Modern Tables
Aluminum, Walnut
Lovely walnut swag leg dining table designed by George Nelson for Herman Miller. Normal wear but no stains or fading. Superb walnut grains with fantastic depth of color.
George Nelson Rosewood Server
Thomas Jolly Antiques
George Nelson Rosewood Server
George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Buffets
Rosewood
George Nelson rosewood server signed inside drawer, four drawers next to three doors, inside has pull-out shelf.
Thin Edge Credenza by George Nelson for Herman Mil...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Credenzas
George Nelson for Herman Miller Thin Edge walnut credenza with original hardware and brushed aluminum legs. Fully restored wood in showroom condition. Measures 67" W x 18.5" D x 33" ...
Six George Nelson Steel Frame Chairs
Idealforms
Six George Nelson Steel Frame Chairs
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s Mid-Century Modern Side Chairs
Steel, Wood
Six caned birch chairs on a black steel frame. One armchair and five side chairs. Hard to find chairs from the steel frame series. In wonderful condition.
Mid-Century Modern Nelson Credenza
Danish Teak Classics
Mid-Century Modern Nelson Credenza
George Nelson
Mid-20th Century Danish Scandinavian Modern Credenzas
Steel, Walnut
Walnut and black panel doors. This is a great and modern addition to any interior. Professional and skilled furniture restoration is an integral part of what we do every day. Our go...
Pair of Small Walnut Dressers by George Nelson for...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Dressers
Chrome, Walnut
Designed by George Nelson for Herman Miller, these walnut dressers feature satin chrome J-shaped drawer pulls and rare satin chrome tapered legs. The upper drawer of each dresser is div...
George Nelson Sling Sofa for Herman Miller
The Swanky abode
George Nelson Sling Sofa for Herman Miller
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Sofas
Chrome, Leather
Designer: George Nelson.  Manufacturer: Herman Miler. Period or model: Mid-Century Modern. Specs: Chrome-plated tubular steel, leather.  Condition: This George Nelson sling ...
George Nelson Thin Edge Bookcases
Zigzag Modern
George Nelson Thin Edge Bookcases
George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Bookcases
George Nelson for Herman Miller, 1950s. A rare form from the high end thin edge series of furniture, open bookcases with single shelf. Walnut veneer and nicely contrasting ebonised back...
George Nelson Bubble Lamp
Den Mobler
George Nelson Bubble Lamp
Howard Miller, George Nelson
Mid-20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Chandeliers and Pendants
Plastic, Steel
An original H-725 bubble lamp (now referred to as “Ball Pendant” variant) designed by George Nelson for Howard Miller in 1947. The lightweight steel frame is covered in the original pla...
George Nelson for Herman Miller Chest of Drawers i...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Commodes and Chests of Drawers
Wood
A nice low key chest designed by George Nelson for Herman Miller. It features walnut legs and walnut pulls on walnut case. Manufacturer label.
George Nelson for Herman Miller Bookcase or Cabine...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Bookcases
Wood
A nice size bookcase designed by George Nelson for Herman Miller. Maple wood construction with ebony legs. (Unmarked).
Desk by George Nelson for Herman Miller
Space 20th Century Modern
Desk by George Nelson for Herman Miller
George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Desks
Formica, Steel, Wood
Simple single desk with steel tubular legs and formica style top in light grey.
Primavera Cabinet by George Nelson for Herman Miller
Reside Inc
Primavera Cabinet by George Nelson for Herman Mill...
George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Cabinets
Mahogany, Oak, Zinc
A beautifully restored primavera cabinet designed by George Nelson for Herman Miller, circa 1950s. Featuring a bank of five graduated drawers and two cabinet doors that open to reveal a...
Vintage George Nelson Ball Clock for Howard Miller...
George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Clocks
Brass, Wood
Classic vintage ball clock designed by George Nelson for Herman Miller. Clock is 100% original and in good working condition.
Pair of George Nelson Lounge Chairs
On Hold
Frank Landau - Selected Design Objects & Fine Art
Pair of George Nelson Lounge Chairs
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Lounge Chairs
Aluminum, Upholstery
The two lounge chairs of George Nelson from his "Thin Edge Series" are in very good condition. The seat, the backrest and armrests are reupholstered with high quality fabric. The legs a...
George Nelson for Herman Miller, Walnut and Leathe...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Office Chairs and Desk Chairs
Leather, Walnut
This is a distinguished office chair designed by George Nelson for Herman Miller. The walnut body has a beautiful waxed patina. The chair is equipped with a custom steel support and bla...
Stunning and Rare George Nelson Thin Edge Platfor...
George Nelson
Mid-20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Sofas
George Nelson thin edge white laminate small sofa set, Original upholstery from 1953
George Nelson Herman Miller CSS Wall Unit
George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Bookcases
George Nelson for Herman Miller CSS wall-mounted unit, circa early 1960s. This example has six shelves and three chests with two drawers each. Drawer fronts are beautifully grained waln...
Pendulum Clock by George Nelson for Howard Miller
Howard Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Clocks
Aluminum, Chrome, Lucite
Pendulum clock by George Nelson for Howard Miller.
George Nelson for Herman Miller Thin-Edge Cabinet
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Cabinets
George Nelson for Herman Miller Thin Edge Cabinet.
Rare Nelson Drop-Leaf Cocktail Table
CONVERSO
Rare Nelson Drop-Leaf Cocktail Table
George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Coffee and Cocktail Tables
Walnut
Table is 36 inches wide when folded.
George Nelson Thin Edge Dresser for Herman Miller,...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Dressers
Aluminum, Rosewood
Designer: George Nelson. Manufacturer: Herman Miller. Period and model: Mid-Century Modern. Specs: Rosewood, cast aluminum. Condition: These George Nelson thin edge dresser ...
Rare George Nelson "Half Nelson" Brass Reflector L...
Koch & Lowy, George Nelson
Vintage 1970s American Mid-Century Modern Table Lamps
Brass, Steel
This clever little lamp, designed by George Nelson for Koch & Lowy and called the "Half Nelson" lamp. Featuring a heavy metal base, a brass cylinder with vertical stem, and an adjustabl...
George Nelson for Herman Miller 'Lazy Susan' Table...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Dining Room Tables
Laminate, Rosewood, Steel
This circular table was designed by George Nelson for Herman Miller in the 1950s and features a white laminate top with rosewood trim. In the center is a functional 'Lazy Susan' which a...
George Nelson Three-Seat Sling Sofa
Dennis Gargiulo Gallery
George Nelson Three-Seat Sling Sofa
George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Sofas
Chrome, Leather, Nickel
George Nelson Sling sofa with worn but torn cushions. Frame is in very good condition with a repair to the seat sling. See photos. All inquiries please call or just press "Contact Deale...
George Nelson Cabinet Model 4712
Weinberg Modern
George Nelson Cabinet Model 4712
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Cabinets
Mahogany, Satin, Aluminum, Chrome
Cabinet with four drawers and two shelves by George Nelson for Herman Miller, produced circa 1950. A desirable version of the basic cabinet series in primavera with satin aluminum hairp...
Early Thin Edge Eight-Drawer Rosewood Dresser by G...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Mid-20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Commodes and Chests of Drawers...
Aluminum, Porcelain, Rosewood
This beautiful chest of drawers, designed in 1952 by George Nelson and manufactured by Herman Miller in 1955, showcases a stunning rosewood grain and the original white porcelain pulls....
Early Thin Edge Ten-Drawer Rosewood Dresser by Geo...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Mid-20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Dressers
Aluminum, Porcelain, Rosewood
This beautiful chest of drawers, designed in 1952 by George Nelson and manufactured by Herman Miller in 1955, showcases a stunning rosewood grain and the original white porcelain pulls....
Arthur Umanoff Desk Clock
The Exchange Int
Arthur Umanoff Desk Clock
Howard Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Clocks
Rosewood, Steel
George Nelson & Associates table clock. Howard Miller Clock Company, USA. Rosewood, steel. Measures: 4.25 W x 3 D x 5.5 H inches. Signed with decal manufacturer's label to r...
George Nelson for Herman Miller End Table, Rare Wh...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern End Tables
Laminate, Steel, Walnut
Exceptional, all original, George Nelson table. Can be used as an end/side table in a living room or a nightstand in a bedroom. Walnut case with a single drawer, white laminate top and ...
George Nelson Office Chair for Herman Miller
George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Office Chairs and Desk Chairs
Aluminum, Leather
Upholstered green leather with aluminum base on casters. Tilt and swivel adjustments. Leather is original and has been restored on arm edges. Foil label pictured.
Pair of George Nelson Tables for Herman Miller
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Tables
George Nelson for Herman Miller from the basic cabinet group originally designed 1948 as nightstands for matching storage headboard. Shelf has a pullout writing surface.
George Nelson Planter and Lamp Table, Model 4634-L...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Mid-20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Side Tables
A chairside table with lamp and planters by George Nelson for Herman Miller. The tabletop is wrapped in leather of a complimentary color to the walnut of the cabinet. The piece stands o...
George Nelson Thin-Edge Credenza by Herman Miller
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Credenzas
Steel, Walnut, Aluminum
We have had many Nelson case goods over the years, and this one is unquestionably our favorite. While the thin-edge group is usually seen in rosewood, this example is clad in beautiful ...
Floating Executive Walnut and Lacquer Desk by Geor...
Herman Miller, George Nelson, George Nelson & Associates
Mid-20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Desks
Chrome, Lacquer, Stainless Steel, Walnut
Produced in the 1950s by George Nelson for Herman Miller it is one of the models of the Executive Office Group series. Lacquered walnut and black lacquered tabletop, coupled with a mode...
George Nelson Walnut Secretary and Bookcase on Lon...
George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Secretaires
Walnut
George Nelson walnut secretary and bookcase on extra long black bench, mfg. Herman Miller, 1950s. Three pieces sold as one unit.
George Nelson for Herman Miller Headboard Bed Cabi...
George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Bookcases
Classic George Nelson design for the Herman Miller early 1950s headboard and bookshelves. The padded headrests are individually adjustable and when lowered, exposes a shelf and storage ...
George Nelson for Herman Miller Wood Slat Bench, c...
George Nelson
Vintage 1970s American Mid-Century Modern Furniture
Wood
George Nelson wood slat bench for Herman Miller, circa 1970. Condition good. Minor lifewear. This bench measures 18.75" wide x 48" long x 14" high.
Wood Cabinet and Slat Bench Set by George Nelson, ...
Herman Miller, George Nelson, George Nelson & Associates
20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Cabinets
Steel, Wood
George Nelson Wood storage cabinet and slat bench, 1950s Herman Miller Wood cabinet with steel handles featuring four drawers on one side and a two-door section opening to an inter...
"The Herman Miller Collection 1952 - Ralph Caplan ...
George Nelson, Ralph Caplan
Mid-20th Century British Books
Published by Ancathus Press, 1995, New York. A reprint of Herman Miller Company’s 1952 catalogue, including furniture works from the likes of Noguchi, Nelson and Eames. This book ef...
George Nelson Herman Miller Three Bay CSS Shelf Wa...
George Nelson
Mid-20th Century American Shelves
George Nelson for Herman Miller. Measures: 97” wide x 94" tall, plus four extensions. Shelves: 12” deep, cabinet: 19” deep.  
Rare George Nelson for Herman Miller Blonde Blanke...
George Nelson
Mid-20th Century American Blanket Chests
George Nelson for Herman Miller. Legs: 8.5” tall.
Seldom Seen George Nelson Pretzel Chair
Red Modern Furniture
Seldom Seen George Nelson Pretzel Chair
George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Chairs
Seldom seen George Nelson for Herman Miller pretzel chair, circa late 1950s. This example has two-tone bentwood arms and legs with a subtly curved seat. Beautiful and functional sculpt...
George Nelson Clock for Howard Miller
George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Clocks
Brass, Wood
Beautiful brass and wood clock designed by George Nelson for the Howard Miller clock company.
George Nelson Aqua Green Steel Frame Petite Cabinets
Modern50
George Nelson Aqua Green Steel Frame Petite Cabine...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Night Stands
Formica, Steel, Wood
Rarely seen configuration, companion cabinet for the office or as bedside tables. Worn, stained and patinated original finish. Cleaned and polished.
Nelson Steelframe Group Console Table Desk Minimal...
Charles Eames, Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Console Tables
Formica, Steel
Beautiful and Rare George Nelson Steel-frame Group worktable desk or console table by Herman Miller. Odd/Rare configuration or assemblage. Level, Sturdy and Usable. Can be shipped d...
George Nelson Ebony Platform Bench
CONVERSO
George Nelson Ebony Platform Bench
George Nelson
Vintage 1940s American Mid-Century Modern Benches
Maple
Ebony maple slat bench for Herman Miller.
George Nelson Rosewood Thin Edge Dresser
Lost City Arts
George Nelson Rosewood Thin Edge Dresser
George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Dressers
Aluminum, Rosewood
Nelson introduced the Thin Edge Collection in 1952, originally called the Rosewood Case Series. The Thin Edge furniture is sought after for the subtle and sophisticated effect of the re...
Rare George Nelson Model 5215 Jewelry Chest with M...
George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Cabinets
Teak, Rosewood, Porcelain, Brass
George Nelson's miniature jewelry chests have always been a desired item. This particular model is in wonderful condition with the added appeal of having the miniature legs that are rar...
Pair of George Nelson for Herman Miller Dressers
George Nelson
20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Dressers
Walnut
Pair of George Nelson for Herman Miller three-drawer dressers.
Rare Pair of Brass George Nelson 'Half-Nelson' Tab...
Koch & Lowy, George Nelson
Vintage 1970s American Mid-Century Modern Table Lamps
Brass
Extremely rare matching pair of authentic George Nelson 'Half-Nelson' brass table lamps by Koch and Lowy. Very good original condition, very light wear on one switch otherwise excellent...
Dresser and Cabinet in Primavera Mahogany by Georg...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
20th Century American Dressers
Mahogany
This five-drawer dresser stands next to a single cabinet with a shelf and hanging retractable rod for plenty of storage. Made for the bedroom in an exquisite primavera wood also known a...
Pair of George Nelson Nightstands
Frank Landau - Selected Design Objects & Fine Art
Pair of George Nelson Nightstands
Charles and Ray Eames, Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Night Stands
Aluminum, Wood
This pair of American George Nelson nightstands are very simple developed in its design but with a practical drawer. Both white wooden cases are recently reworked and stands on aluminiu...
Rare George Nelson Bronze Group Cocktail Table
Red Modern Furniture
Rare George Nelson Bronze Group Cocktail Table
George Nelson
Vintage 1960s Coffee and Cocktail Tables
Rare George Nelson for Herman Miller 'Bronze Group' coffee table, circa late 1960s. This limited production example has patinated solid bronze X legs with a beautifully grained Brazilia...
Early Pair of George Nelson Herman Miller Thin Edg...
George Nelson
Vintage 1950s North American Dressers
Early all original pair of George Nelson for Herman Miller thin edge chests of drawers, circa late 1950s. These five-drawer examples have combed walnut cases and drawer fronts with hour...
Rare George Nelson Herman Miller Thin Edge Chest
George Nelson
Vintage 1950s North American Commodes and Chests of Drawers
Rare George Nelson for Herman Miller thin edge chest, circa late 1950s. This all original example has a beautifully grained walnut case and drawer fronts, porcelain hour glass pulls and...