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 Steel Frame Bench for Herman Miller,...
George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Benches
Fabric, Metal, Stainless Steel
George Nelson bench with stainless steel planter box, brand new tangerine linen upholstery. Gorgeous!
George Nelson for Herman Miller Steelframe Bench
George Nelson for Herman Miller Steelframe Bench
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Benches
Steel, Naugahyde, Wood
A vintage two-seat bench by George Nelson from his Steelframe series for Herman Miller. Generously-sized cushions upholstered in original bright red vinyl. Steel and wood base and le...
Mid-Century Modern George Nelson Slat Bench
Mid-Century Modern George Nelson Slat Bench
George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Benches
Lacquer
This midcentury slat bench by George Nelson features a compact size and ebonized finish which offer a bold modern accent to any home or office space. Please confirm item location (N...
Early Modular Steel Frame Bench by George Nelson f...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Benches
Steel, Naugahyde, Formica
Early, modular bench by George Nelson, "Steel Frame" collection for Herman Miller consists of three sections; two vinyl seats and one formica topped table that can be configured as need...
George Nelson for Herman Miller Maple Six Foot Ben...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Benches
Maple
Vintage George Nelson for Herman Miller Maple and Black enamel, mid size, six foot slat coffee table. Great size for Three-seat sofa, King-size bed end Bench
George Nelson Bench
By George Nelson
George Nelson Bench
George Nelson
Vintage 1980s American Mid-Century Modern Benches
Maple
Clean lined modern bench, designed by George Nelson for Herman Miller, American, circa 1980s. Retains warm original patina.
George Nelson Slat Bench for Herman Miller
By Herman Miller, George Nelson
George Nelson Slat Bench for Herman Miller
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Benches
George Nelson for Herman Miller slat bench form the 1950s. In original condition. Minor wear, gorgeous patina.
Mid-Century George Nelson for Herman Miller Cabinet or Credenza on Slat Bench
Mid-Century George Nelson for Herman Miller Cabine...
George Nelson, George Nelson & Associates
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Benches
Metal, Wood
Wonderful example of the Herman Miller modular system designed by George Nelson. This piece features the rare sliding door cabinet with adjustable shelves. In original unrestored condit...
1950s George Nelson Slat Bench for Herman Miller
On Hold
1950s George Nelson Slat Bench for Herman Miller
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Benches
George Nelson for Herman Miller slat bench form the 1950s. In original condition. Minor wear, gorgeous patina.
George Nelson Ebonized Platform Bench by Herman Mi...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Benches
Wood
George Nelson platform bench (No. 4692) was made by the Herman Miller Furniture Company Inc. circa 1950s. It was designed primarily for high and low storage cases. But it was also used ...
Rare Herman Miller Bench by George Nelson
By Herman Miller, George Nelson
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...
Vintage Super Long George Nelson Mid-Century Modern Bench for Herman Miller
Vintage Super Long George Nelson Mid-Century Moder...
George Nelson
20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Benches
Maple
Vintage rare super long slat bench designed by George Nelson for Herman Miller. This size is hard to find and was only made in the 1950s.
Vintage George Nelson Teak Coffee Table
By Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage George Nelson Teak Coffee Table
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Benches
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.           
George Nelson for Herman Miller Modular Cabinet and Bench
George Nelson for Herman Miller Modular Cabinet an...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1960s Mid-Century Modern Benches
Mid-Century Modern storage cabinet set on a refinished black slat bench. Cabinet can be removed or re-positioned on bench, adjustable shelf, metal door pulls. Cabinet: 34"w 18.5"d 24"h ...
Largest George Nelson Slat Bench for Herman Miller
Largest George Nelson Slat Bench for Herman Miller...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Benches
Maple
Fully original iconic George Nelson design for Herman Miller in the largest version that was available. This slat bench is constructed from natural solid maple and black lacquered maple...
Mid-Century Modern Slat Bench by George Nelson
Mid-Century Modern Slat Bench by George Nelson
George Nelson
Vintage 1970s American Mid-Century Modern Benches
Wood
This gorgeous vintage modern bench features a unique ebonized finish and a slat top. The sleek design sits on top of two sled style legs with angled sides ensuring sturdiness without sa...
George Nelson Ebony Slat Bench for Herman Miller
George Nelson Ebony Slat Bench for Herman Miller
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Benches
Maple
Iconic George Nelson design for Herman Miller. Model 4992. This slat bench is constructed from Black Lacquered Maple with a sled base. This bench can be used both as seating and as a co...
Mid-Century George Nelson Slat Bench for Herman Miller
Mid-Century George Nelson Slat Bench for Herman Mi...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Benches
Vintage slat bench with maple top and painted black sled legs. Designed by George Nelson for Herman Miller. Perfect for use as bench or coffee table. (Please confirm item location N...
George Nelson Herman Miller Slat Bench, Early 1950s
George Nelson Herman Miller Slat Bench, Early 1950...
George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Benches
George Nelson Herman Miller 6' slat bench, circa early 1950s. This all original example has a beautiful broken in ebonized finish over maple and was purchased from a former Herman Mille...
 George Nelson Bench for Herman Miller
By Herman Miller, George Nelson
George Nelson Bench for Herman Miller
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Benches
Maple, Wood
Vintage bench designed by George Nelson for Herman Miller.
George Nelson Bench by Herman Miller
George Nelson Bench by Herman Miller
George Nelson
Mid-20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Benches
A double cushion Nelson bench with center table in white formica from the steel frame series of furniture by the Herman Miller furniture company. Naugahyde upholstery in a medium purple...
George Nelson Sectional Sofa, Bench and Side Table for Herman Miller
George Nelson Sectional Sofa, Bench and Side Table...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Benches
A 1960s sectional living room set by designer George Nelson for Herman Miller, which includes a four seat sofa and two seat bench, upholstered in blue vinyl cushions, against a white en...
Rare George Nelson Herman Miller Coffee Table or Bench
Rare George Nelson Herman Miller Coffee Table or B...
George Nelson
Mid-20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Benches
A rare George Nelson designed prototype coffee table or bench with black satin slat bench styled wood legs and white laminate top, the top is typical of the size, thickness and make up ...
Early George Nelson Bench
By Herman Miller, George Nelson
Early George Nelson Bench
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Benches
Wood
A nice and early example of this iconic Nelson design for Herman Miller with an aged original black lacquered finish.