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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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 ...
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.
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...
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 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 Ebony Platform Bench
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.
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...
Seldom Seen George Nelson Pretzel Chair
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 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.
George Nelson Aqua Green Steel Frame Petite Cabinets
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.
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...
Nelson Steelframe Group Console Table Desk Minimal...
Charles Eames, Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Console Tables
Formica, Steel
Rare George Nelson Steel-frame Group desk or console table by Herman Miller. Odd/Rare configuration or assemblage. Level, Sturdy and Usable. Can be shipped disassembled within Cont....
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.
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 for Herman Miller Dressers
George Nelson
20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Dressers
Walnut
Pair of George Nelson for Herman Miller three-drawer dressers.
George Nelson Sling Sofa for Herman Miller
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 ...
Rare George Nelson Bronze Group Cocktail Table
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...
Pair of George Nelson Nightstands
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 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...
George Nelson Rosewood Thin Edge Dresser
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...
George Nelson Steel Frame Modular Sofa Herman Mill...
George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Sofas
Sofa designed by George Nelson as part of the modular steel frame group for Herman Miller. The seats and table can be moved to either side or the center. Vinyl, chrome-plated steel, ...
"MMG" Desk by George Nelson for Herman Miller, 1957
"MMG" Desk by George Nelson for Herman Miller, 1957
Fragile
"MMG" Desk by George Nelson for Herman Miller, 195...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Desks and Writing Tables
Laminate, Metal
Desk from the series "Modern Management Group," designed by George Nelson for Herman Miller in 1957 (manufactured from 1957-1962). White laminated plastic top, orange lacquered metal st...
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. We off...
Clock by George Nelson Associates for Howard Mille...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Clocks
Glass, Metal
Wall clock model 622-223 by George Nelson Associates for Howard Miller Clock Company, 1950s. Black, white and orange. Clock glass on face and metal frame. New mechanism installed by clo...
George Nelson Rosewood Server
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.
Teak George Nelson Herman Miller Thin Edge Headboard
Teak George Nelson Herman Miller Thin Edge Headboard
pghModern
Teak George Nelson Herman Miller Thin Edge Headboa...
George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Beds
Metal, Teak, Upholstery
Beautiful single headboard designed by George Nelson for Herman Miller. Rare "Thin Edge" series with a reading light and small drawers. Scratches on the base will be covered by mattress...
George Nelson Coconut Chair in Purple Vitra Produc...
George Nelson, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s German Mid-Century Modern Lounge Chairs
Fiberglass, Leather, Metal
Design by George Nelson 1955, produced by Vitra in 2006. Upholstery in purple leather.                  
George Nelson Pretzel Chair for Herman Miller, 195...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Armchairs
Upholstery, Wood
Rare and iconic bentwood Pretzel chair designed by John Pile for the George Nelson office in 1952. Original patina and upholstery.  
Exceptional Executive Desk by George Nelson for He...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Mid-20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Desks
Lacquer
Bold in appearance and newly refinished, this uncommon floating desk was designed by George Nelson for Herman Miller, circa 1950. Chrome legs and pulls, with the desk top floating upon ...
Classic Midcentury Nightstands with Cupcake Pulls ...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern End Tables
Lacquer, Mahogany
Classic Midcentury nightstands with cupcake pulls by George Nelson for Herman Miller, 1950s. Fully restored and in gorgeous condition. We offer free regular deliveries to NYC and Phi...
George Nelson for Herman Miller Highboy Dresser
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Dressers
This Mid-Century highboy dresser features a beautiful array of vintage details, from the immediately recognizable block legs George Nelson used throughout much of his work, to the uniqu...
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 Pretzel Dining Chairs
George Nelson Pretzel Dining Chairs
ABC Modern
George Nelson Pretzel Dining Chairs
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Dining Room Chairs
Birch, Cowhide
Set of four rare model 5098 "Pretzel" dining chairs, designed by George Nelson for Herman Miller, America, circa 1952. They retain their original finish with a warm patina and were reup...
George Nelson for Howard Miller Grandfather Clock
George Nelson for Howard Miller Grandfather Clock
Automaton
George Nelson for Howard Miller Grandfather Clock
Howard Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Clocks
Lucite, Wood
A Mid-Century Grandfather clock, designed by George Nelson for Howard Miller, Model No. 622. A wooden frame with rounded corners borders the smoked Lucite panes, displaying the inner wo...
George Nelson for Herman Miller Chaise Longue
George Nelson for Herman Miller Chaise Longue
Retro Inferno
George Nelson for Herman Miller Chaise Longue
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Chaise Longues
Chrome, Upholstery
Rare George Nelson chaise longue for Herman Miller. Heavy chromed steel frame with newer upholstery.
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 Slat Bench
George Nelson Slat Bench
Neven + Neven Moderne
George Nelson Slat Bench
George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Benches
Wood
Great bench that has been gently restored with new lacquer and black paint on legs. The original label is present. There is some staining on the wood under the new clear coat, typical f...
Scarce Pair of George Nelson Chrome Base Leather C...
George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Lounge Chairs
Chrome, Leather, Upholstery
Pair of chairs by Gilbert Rohde for Herman Miller, white disc label.
George Nelson Coconut Lounge Chair and Ottoman, 19...
Herman Miller, George Nelson, George Nelson & Associates
Mid-20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Lounge Chairs
Naugahyde, Plastic, Steel
George Nelson Coconut Lounge Chair and Ottoman, 1960s Herman Miller The Lounge Chair Dimensions: 33 high x 42 wide x 32 deep x 13 seat height inches Materiality: original black N...
DAF Fiberglass Choirboy George Nelson for Herman M...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s Central American Mid-Century Modern Chairs
Fiberglass, Leather, Steel
DAF chair low H-base designed by George Nelson for Herman Miller, 1958. Off-white fiber glass seat shell with black leather seat. Light traces of use.
Medium 'Cigar' Pendant Light
Medium 'Cigar' Pendant Light
Lassco
Medium 'Cigar' Pendant Light
George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Modern Chandeliers and Pendants
Nickel, Paper
By George Nelson. A waxed paper pendant light with brushed nickel ceiling plate, gallery and original flex, multiples available, original tooling by Herman Miller.
Large 'Cigar' Pendant Light
Large 'Cigar' Pendant Light
Lassco
Large 'Cigar' Pendant Light
George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Modern Chandeliers and Pendants
Nickel, Paper
By George Nelson. A waxed paper pendant light with brushed nickel ceiling plate, gallery and original flex, multiples available, original tooling by Herman Miller.
George Nelson for Arbuck Side Tables
George Nelson for Arbuck Side Tables
Wynne City Works
George Nelson for Arbuck Side Tables
Arbuck, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Side Tables
Milk Glass, Wrought Iron
George Nelson for Arbuck side tables.
George Nelson Mid-Century Modern Walnut Coffee or ...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Side Tables
Walnut
Very nice design high quality craftsmanship walnut coffee table by George Nelson for Herman Miller.
Mid-Century Modern Tambour Roll-Top Desk by George...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Desks and Writing Tables
This unique roll-top writing desk is from the Herman Miller "Action Office" line and features a beautiful hardwood hideaway design set on metal base with aluminum legs. Pair of drawers ...
Ceramic Meridian Wall Clock by George Nelson Howar...
George Nelson
Mid-20th Century Italian Mid-Century Modern Clocks
Ceramic, Metal
Beautiful clock designed by George Nelson and made in Italy by Raymor for the Meridian Clock Division of Howard Miller, Original tags on the back.
George Nelson Coconut Chairs
George Nelson Coconut Chairs
Zigzag Modern
George Nelson Coconut Chairs
George Nelson
Mid-20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Armchairs
George Nelson for Herman Miller, USA, 1956. A pair of early examples from the first series of production, both professionally reupholstered in high grade soft tan leather. Frames of ena...
George Nelson "Thin Edge" Cabinet
George Nelson "Thin Edge" Cabinet
CONVERSO
George Nelson "Thin Edge" Cabinet
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Cabinets
Aluminum, Walnut
Nelson for Herman Miller Case, Quarter-sawn black walnut with aluminum pulls and tapered legs and adjustable shelf.
Rare George Nelson Floor Clock
Rare George Nelson Floor Clock
Idealforms
Rare George Nelson Floor Clock
Howard Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Clocks
Chrome
Rare George Nelson floor clock for Howard Miller. Chrome ball face on a tulip base. A truly stunning clock seldom seen.
Large Five Bay George Nelson Omni Wall Shelf Syste...
George Nelson
Mid-20th Century American Shelves
Aluminum, Steel, Walnut
George Nelson for Omni. Cabinets: 18” deep, shelves: 12” deep.    
George Nelson Slipper Chairs, Pair, Herman Miller,...
George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Slipper Chairs
Naugahyde
Pair of slipper chairs designed by George Nelson for Herman Miller in 1950.
Thin Edge Credenza by George Nelson for Herman Miller
Thin Edge Credenza by George Nelson for Herman Miller
Original in Berlin
Thin Edge Credenza by George Nelson for Herman Mil...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Credenzas
Aluminum, Walnut
Thin Edge walnut credenza by George Nelson for Herman Millerwith original hardware and brushed aluminum legs. In perfect vintage condition!  
George Nelson for Herman Miller Slat Bench
Herman Miller, George Nelson
2010s American Mid-Century Modern Coffee and Cocktail Tables
Ash
George Nelson for Herman Miller 60" slat bench. In good condition.
Pair of Seldom Seen Nelson Herman Miller Headboards
Pair of Seldom Seen Nelson Herman Miller Headboards
Red Modern Furniture
Pair of Seldom Seen Nelson Herman Miller Headboard...
George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Beds
Early pair of George Nelson for Herman Miller headboards circa late 1950s. These all original examples have solid maple frames inset tightly woven rattan centers and can be used togethe...
Black Slatted Wood Bench by George Nelson for Herm...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Benches
One of the most dynamic designs of mid century furniture, created by George Nelson for Herman Miller. This black lacquered wood bench has a slatted surface and two supportive trapezoids...