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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Mid-Century Modern Walnut Freestanding Three Bay Omni Unit by George Nelson
Mid-Century Modern Walnut Freestanding Three Bay O...
George Nelson
Vintage 1950s Mid-Century Modern Shelves
Walnut
Mid-Century Modern walnut freestanding three bay Omni unit by George Nelson. This freestanding unit includes eight poles, three different cabinets, four shelves, and mounting hardware ...
Action Office Storage Unit by George Nelson for Herman Miller
Action Office Storage Unit by George Nelson for He...
George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Shelves
Aluminum, Laminate, Ash
A tall storage unit from the Action Office or No. 649 Series designed by George Nelson & Robert Propst for Herman Miller, circa 1964-1968. Featuring an ash cabinet with flip-top that op...
 Magnificent George Nelson Omni System Three Bay Wall Unit Mid-Century Modern
Magnificent George Nelson Omni System Three Bay W...
George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Shelves
Aluminum, Walnut
Magnificent George Nelson three Bay Omni wall unit. Just look at all the cabinets included in this set- six in all including three different drawer cabinets, one with two pull-out filin...
George Nelson Three Bay CSS Shelving Unit by Herman Miller, circa 1960
George Nelson Three Bay CSS Shelving Unit by Herma...
George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Shelves
Aluminum, Walnut
Three bay CSS, designed by George Nelson for Herman Miller, walnut shelves an cabinets. Our gallery specializes in George Nelson's CSS storage system of 1959. We currently have sever...
George Nelson Three Bay CSS by Herman Miller, circa 1960

By George Nelson
George Nelson Three Bay CSS by Herman Miller, circ...
George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Shelves
Walnut
Three bay CSS, designed by George Nelson for Herman Miller, walnut shelves an cabinets. Bright Lyons specializes in George Nelson's CSS storage system of 1959. We currently have sev...
George Nelson Three Bay CSS by Herman Miller, circa 1960

By George Nelson
George Nelson Three Bay CSS by Herman Miller, circ...
George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Shelves
Walnut
Three bay CSS, designed by George Nelson for Herman Miller, walnut shelves an cabinets. Bright Lyons specializes in George Nelson's CSS storage system of 1959. We currently have sev...
George Nelson Four Bay CSS Shelving Unit, Herman Miller, 1960
On Hold
George Nelson Four Bay CSS Shelving Unit, Herman M...
George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Shelves
Aluminum, Walnut
Four bay CSS (comprehensive storage system), designed by George Nelson for Herman Miller. Walnut shelfs, rare glass front vitrine, all components are modular.
1970s CSS Modular Wall Unit by George Nelson for Herman Miller

By Herman Miller, George Nelson
1970s CSS Modular Wall Unit by George Nelson for H...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1970s American Mid-Century Modern Shelves
Stainless Steel, Wood
CSS white lacquered wood and stainless steel modular wall unit designed by George Nelson in 1957 and edited by Herman Miller between 1959 and 1973. Manufactured by Mobilier Internationa...
George Nelson Omni Shelving Unit

By Structural Products Inc., George Nelson
George Nelson Omni Shelving Unit
Structural Products Inc., George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Shelves
Metal, Walnut
The original modular storage system designed by the George Nelson office was the "Omni" system which was manufactured by Structural Products. It was later followed by the CSS system mad...
George Nelson Four De La Baie Css Mural Étagère Pour Herman Miller, 1959

By Herman Miller, George Nelson
George Nelson Four De La Baie Css Mural Étagère ...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
20th Century American Shelves
Steel, Wood
Wall-mounted four Bay CSS (Comprehensive Storage System), designed by George Nelson for Herman Miller, brushed steel, glass, wood. Two cabinets with drawers 83.5 cm x 50 cm H 37 cm (...
George Nelson CSS by Herman Miller (14 bays)

By George Nelson
On Hold
George Nelson CSS by Herman Miller (14 bays)
George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Shelves
Large collection of George Nelson CSS (comprehensive storage system) by Herman Miller. 15 poles (14 bays), 21 shelves, 2 three drawer cabinets, 3 sliding door cabinets, 3 two drawer ca...