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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CSS Wall Unit by George Nelson for Herman Miller
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CSS Wall Unit by George Nelson for Herman Miller
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Mid-20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Shelves
Aluminum, Glass, Steel, Walnut
A four-bay CSS wall unit designed by George Nelson for Herman Miller. This example has five uprights - three at 96” height, bookended by two at 84” height. The second bay from the left ...
George Nelson for Herman Miller Hairpin Leg Chest,...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Commodes and Chests of Drawers
Beautiful walnut chest newly refinished with original hairpin legs and "M" form handles in brushed steel. Excellent condition. Herman Miller label with printed George Nelson signature i...
George Nelson Bronze Series Teak Coffee Table for ...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Coffee and Cocktail Tables
Bronze, Teak
Designer: George Nelson Manufacturer: Herman Miller Period/Model: Mid Century Modern Specs: Bronze, Teak condition: This rare George Neson bronze series coffee table is in ve...
Vintage Walnut Executive Desk with Return by Georg...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Desks
Metal, Walnut
This Mid-Century Modern walnut executive desk was designed by George Nelson for Herman Miller in the 1950s. It features a large walnut desk top with three drawers and a credenza return ...
George Nelson for Herman Miller Thin-Edge Cabinet
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George Nelson for Herman Miller Thin-Edge Cabinet
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Cabinets
George Nelson for Herman Miller Thin Edge Cabinet.
Pair of Mahogany Chests by George Nelson for Herma...
George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Dressers
Mahogany
Pair of mahogany chests by George Nelson for Herman Miller, 1950s.
Pair of Walnut Cabinets Designed by George Nelson ...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Cabinets
Aluminum, Walnut
Walnut cabinets, each has two doors and one shelf. Aluminum pulls and legs.
George Nelson Catenary Chairs
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George Nelson Catenary Chairs
George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Lounge Chairs
George Nelson for Herman Miller, USA, 1962. A pair of Catenary chairs in black leather and chrome plated steel. Each signed with manufacturer’s disc label to underside. Minor wear to...
George Nelson Thin Edge Chest
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George Nelson Thin Edge Chest
George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Modern Commodes and Chests of Drawers
Walnut
A George Nelson thin edge walnut chest of drawers, circa late 1950 or early 1960s. Pair available, priced individually.
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 ...
Nicely Grained George Nelson Rosewood Thin Edge Chest
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Nicely Grained George Nelson Rosewood Thin Edge Ch...
George Nelson
Mid-20th Century American Cabinets
Chest by George Nelson for Herman Miller.
Modular Seating System by George Nelson for Herman Miller
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Modular Seating System by George Nelson for Herman...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1960s Unknown Mid-Century Modern Sectional Sofas
Leather
Modular seating system by George Nelson for Herman Miller produced from 1956-1978. This six-part system can be positioned variably. An absolute design Classic in the original condition...
Steel Contract Bench by George Nelson for Herman M...
George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Benches
Naugahyde, Steel, Wood
Long steel multi surface bench with two cushions, one wood slated table area and one Formica style table area.
George Nelson Chronopak Orb Desk Clock for Howard ...
Howard Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Clocks
Brass, Walnut
Designer: George Nelson. Manufacturer: Howard Miller. Period/Style: Mid-Century Modern. Country: United States. Date: 1950s. Dimensions: 6.5″ H x 5.25″ W x 4.75″ D. Materials: W...
Ebony George Nelson Dresser for Herman Miller
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Ebony George Nelson Dresser for Herman Miller
George Nelson
Mid-20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Dressers
Metal, Wood
Ebony dresser from Herman Miller. Designed by George Nelson. Four drawers and single door cabinet with shelf.
George Nelson for Herman Miller Thin Edge Dresser
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Dressers
Aluminum, Rosewood
George Nelson vintage dresser for Herman Miller, Catalog #5221, 1955. Vintage eight-drawer rosewood dresser with aluminum pulls from the “Thin Edge,” series. Handsome grain on rich to...
George Nelson Dresser for Herman Miller
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George Nelson Dresser for Herman Miller
George Nelson
20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Dressers
Fully restored George Nelson dresser for Herman Miller.
George Nelson Sling Sofa for Herman Miller
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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 Cabinets
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George Nelson Cabinets
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Mid-20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Night Stands
Wood
A handsome example of Classic American Mid-Century design with lovely original finish and original cupcake pulls. Versatile as bedside tables or as end tables. Model 3922, manufactured ...
George Nelson for Herman Miller Ebonized Bench
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Benches
Maple
A Mid-Century Modern bench designed by George Nelson for Herman Miller. Ebonized maple slats and legs 48" in length.
George Nelson Herman Miller Early Vintage Swag Leg...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Tables
Beautiful example of this iconic design in nice vintage condition. A nice early Herman Miller label still attached to underside.
BSC Double Dressers and Suspended Vanity by George...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Dressers
Chrome, Walnut
Part of the basic storage components that George Nelson designed for Herman Miller in 1952, this extraordinary set comprises two dressers in a warm walnut on either side of a suspended ...
Mid-Century Modern Side Table or Nightstand by Geo...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
20th Century American Modern Side Tables
Aluminum, Laminate
This 17" diameter, 21.5" tall, modern design polished aluminum base with white laminate top and wood trim is a George Nelson Classic. Designed in the 1950s and manufactured by Herman Mi...
Mid-Century Modern Small Pendant "Bubble Lamp" by ...
George Nelson
20th Century American Modern Chandeliers and Pendants
This is a Classic pendant "Bubble Lamp" lamp designed in the 1950s by George Nelson. The color is off-white.  
Vintage George Nelson Teak Coffee Table
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Vintage George Nelson Teak Coffee Table
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Coffee and Cocktail Tables
Steel, Teak
Mid-Century coffee table by George Nelson for Herman Miller model no. 5150. This piece has a teak tabletop with a contrasting white coated enameled steel base.           
BSC Dresser/ Cabinet by George Nelson for Herman Miller
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BSC Dresser/ Cabinet by George Nelson for Herman M...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Dressers
Chrome, Walnut
George Nelson designed this chest or cabinet, model #4621, as part of Herman Miller’s modular basic storage components. The warm walnut case features five drawers and a cabinet with two...
Walnut Excutive Desk with Credenza Return by Georg...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Mid-20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Desks
Walnut
Very nice Mid-Century walnut executive desk with a credenza return. It can be placed in the center of a room with access to all sides. The desk is attached to the credenza in an "L" sha...
George Nelson Credenza for Herman Miller
George Nelson
Mid-20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Credenzas
A Nelson walnut credenza with double dark gray black sliding doors, banks of small and large file styled drawers to the inside. Storage to the other side and to the end of the credenza ...
George Nelson for Herman Miller Dining Chairs
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George Nelson for Herman Miller Dining Chairs
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Side Chairs
Steel, Wool, Zinc
Originally designed for dining use by George Nelson for Herman Miller, these handsome, versatile chairs have such clean and angular lines, they make great accent or desk chairs, particu...
George Nelson Side Table for Herman Miller
George Nelson
Mid-20th Century American Mid-Century Modern End Tables
A hard to find Nelson walnut topped side table with brushed stainless steel legs and satin black metal stretchers manufactured by the Herman Miller Furniture Company.
Petite Swag Leg Occasional Table by George Nelson
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Petite Swag Leg Occasional Table by George Nelson
George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern End Tables
Aluminum, Laminate
Beautiful, small swag leg side or occasional table by George Nelson with rectangular wood and laminate top. Manufactured by Herman Miller Furniture Co., Zeeland, MI in the 1960s.
Pair of Oak and White Laminate Side Tables by Geor...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
20th Century Mid-Century Modern Side Tables
Extremely rare early 1950s, pair of oak and white laminate side tables by George Nelson for Herman Miller. Gorgeous pair in beautiful condition.
Rare Herman Miller Bench by George Nelson
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Rare Herman Miller Bench by George Nelson
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Benches
Walnut
Herman Miller bench by George Nelson. Extremely rare black frame slat edition only produced from 1961-1963. Signed with metal Herman Miller tag on the underside. Original unrestored con...
George Nelson Tall Dresser for Herman Miller
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George Nelson Tall Dresser for Herman Miller
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Dressers
Aluminum, Walnut, Wood
For your consideration a tall dresser designed by George Nelson for Herman Miller. Features five pull-out drawers constructed with double dove tail joints and sculptural pull-out ha...
George Nelson Short Dresser for Herman Miller
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George Nelson Short Dresser for Herman Miller
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Dressers
Aluminum, Walnut, Wood
For your consideration a tall dresser designed by George Nelson for Herman Miller. Features four pull-out drawers constructed with double dove tail joints and sculptural pull-out ha...
Pair of George Nelson Herman Miller Primavera Ches...
George Nelson
Vintage 1940s American Mid-Century Modern Commodes and Chests of Drawers
Pair of George Nelson for Herman Miller Primavera chests of drawers, circa late 1940s. These examples each have four drawers with walnut cases and ebonized walnut legs. Price listed is ...
Vintage George Nelson for Howard Miller Spike Cloc...
George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Clocks
Brass, Wood
Iconic, vintage spike clock with key wind mechanism. Clock measures 19" diameter by 2.5" deep and is in working order. Signed on reverse Howard Miller Company, Zeeland, Michigan. In ver...
Set of 4 Cane-Back Side Chairs by George Nelson fo...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1940s American Mid-Century Modern Dining Room Chairs
Beech, Cane, Fabric
A rare set of 4 American beechwood side chairs with woven cane back rests, designed by George Nelson for Herman Miller in the 1940's. The finish on the wooden sections of the chairs is ...
Arthur Umanoff Desk Clock, George Nelson & Associa...
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...
Handsome Ebonized Buffet or Credenza with Aluminum...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Buffets
Aluminum, Mahogany
Handsome ebonized buffet or credenza with aluminum pulls by George Nelson for Herman Miller, 1950. Fully restored and in excellent condition. Could also function as a dresser. See th...
Pair of George Nelson Herman Miller Chests
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Commodes and Chests of Drawers
Metal, Wood
A pair of compatible Herman Miller chests by George Nelson. Fine pair of chests one for wardrobe and one commode. The wardrobe with five graduating drawers and a side wardrobe. The comm...
Mid-Century Modern George Nelson for Howard Miller...
Howard Miller, George Nelson, George Nelson & Associates
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Clocks
Plastic, Steel
A fine tulip base pedestal clock designed by George Nelson and manufactured by Howard Miller clock company. Heavy well-made steel construction with a bubble front lens. Original "C" bat...
Six George Nelson for Herman Miller Armchairs Redu...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1940s American Armchairs
Fabric, Maple
A set of six Mid-Century Modern armchairs designed by George Nelson for Herman Miller. Maple frames with plum colored upholstery. These chairs are also available singly or in pairs.
Pair of Chests of Drawers by George Nelson for Her...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Commodes and Chests of Drawers
Pair of exceptional thin edge chests of drawers by George Nelson for Herman Miller, in impeccable condition. One has a set of graduating drawers, the other has drawers and a cabinet. Bo...
Rare George Nelson for Herman Miller Lounge Chair ...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Lounge Chairs
Upholstery
Original 1950s George Nelson upholstered lounge chair and ottoman in updated Herman Miller fabric. Beautiful rich red color in excellent condition.
George Nelson Adjustable Tray Table by Herman Mill...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Side Tables
Steel, Wood
This early design by George Nelson is incredibly versatile. The model 4950 tray table has a molded plywood top of calico ash which is 15" square and adjusts from 19" to 33" in height. T...
George Nelson Rare Special Order Desk from Herman ...
George Nelson
Mid-20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Desks and Writing Tables
From the steel frame group this desk designed by George Nelson was special custom ordered by an employee of the company with a larger sized desk top which very few were produced. The st...
George Nelson 'Loose Cushion' Lounge Chair for Her...
George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Lounge Chairs
Fabric, Linen
Single model 'Loose Cushion' armchair / model N° 5681 by George Nelson, originally drawn in 1955 and produced by Herman Miller from 1956-1967 executed with square legs. New upholstery ...
Original George Nelson 'Ball Pendant' Bubble Light...
Howard Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Chandeliers and Pendants
Metal, Rubber
An original H-725 bubble light designed by George Nelson for Howard Miller in 1947. The lightweight steel frame is covered in the original plastic webbing with a pull chain to turn the ...
George Nelson Coconut Chair
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George Nelson Coconut Chair
George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Lounge Chairs
Leather, Chrome, Fiberglass
George Nelson coconut chair in oxblood red leather. Earlier Vitra reissue in great vintage condition. Excellent fast and affordable worldwide shipping. White glove delivery availab...
Pair of Mid-Century Modern George Nelson Armchairs
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Pair of Mid-Century Modern George Nelson Armchairs...
George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Armchairs
Walnut
Stylish sleek Mid-Century Modern armchairs by George Nelson for Herman Miller, having walnut frames and upholstered cushions. Arm height 24". CS  
George Nelson Small Dresser for Herman Miller
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George Nelson Small Dresser for Herman Miller
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Dressers
Metal, Teak
Dresser, in teak and metal, by George Nelson for Herman Miller, United States, 1950s. Small four-drawer cabinet by designer George Nelson. The design of this dresser is simplistic, y...
George Nelson for Herman Miller Rosewood and Rubbe...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Coffee and Cocktail Tables
Rosewood, Rubber
Attractive and practical coffee table of unusual form by George Nelson for Herman Miller featuring richly polished rosewood top with rubber bump-guard. 'Double-X' base of black lacquere...
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...
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...
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. 32 screws conne...
Rare George Nelson Executive Home Desk, 1940s
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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 Sofa
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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 Rosewood Server
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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 Miller
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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" ...