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 George Nelson Walnut Shelf Wall Unit
By George Nelson
Dimensions: H 42 in. W 6 ft. 4.3 in. D 10.5 in.
Dealer Location: Bedford, NY
Materials & Techniques: Brass, Walnut
Mid-Century Modern George Nelson Walnut Shelf Wall...
George Nelson
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Shelves
Brass, Walnut
Beautiful and minimal walnut shelf unit with solid brass brackets and hardware by George Nelson. Can configure multiple ways. Shelves are solid walnut and have original finish. Surface ...
Two Bay Css Wall Unit Walnut by George Nelson Herman Millerm, Mid-Century
Dimensions: H 7 ft. 2 in. W 5 ft. 5 in. D 18.5 in.
Dealer Location: Medford, NJ
Materials & Techniques: Aluminum, Formica, Walnut
Two Bay Css Wall Unit Walnut by George Nelson Herm...
George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Shelves
Aluminum, Formica, Walnut
Original signed two bay comprehensive storage system CSS by George Nelson for Herman Miller. This system consists of three spring loaded aluminium poles, three cabinets and two shelves....
George Nelson Custom Hanging Walnut Cabinet from a National Historical Building
By George Nelson
Dimensions: H 15 in. W 4 ft. 7 in. D 14 in.
Dealer Location: Cincinnati, OH
George Nelson Custom Hanging Walnut Cabinet from a...
George Nelson
Mid-20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Shelves
A two flip up door Nelson medium toned walnut hanging cabinet with woven cane fronts and brass hardware, having a beveled bottom edge to the doors for ease of opening and folding to the...
Three-Bay CSS Wall Unit by George Nelson for Herman Miller
By Herman Miller, George Nelson
Dimensions: H 8 ft. W 8 ft. 1 in. D 18.5 in.
Dealer Location: Los Angeles, CA
Materials & Techniques: Steel, Glass, Laminate, Walnut
Three-Bay CSS Wall Unit by George Nelson for Herma...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Mid-20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Shelves
Steel, Glass, Laminate, Walnut
A three-bay CSS wall unit designed by George Nelson for Herman Miller. This example has four 96” upright poles with a black finish and each bay is 32” wide. The fully modular unit inclu...
Action Office Storage Unit by George Nelson for Herman Miller
Dimensions: H 6 ft. W 4 ft. 1 in. D 12 in.
Dealer Location: Cambridge, MA
Materials & Techniques: Aluminum, Laminate, Ash
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...
George Nelson Omni Shelving Unit
By Structural Products Inc., George Nelson
By Structural Products Inc., George Nelson
Dimensions: H 8 ft. W 8 ft. 1 in. D 13 in.
Dealer Location: Highland, IN
Materials & Techniques: Metal, Walnut
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...
Pair of George Nelson Teak Shelves for Herman Miller
By George Nelson
Dimensions: H 18.5 in. W 35.5 in. D 18.5 in.
Dealer Location: San Francisco, CA
Pair of George Nelson Teak Shelves for Herman Mill...
George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Shelves
Beautifully restored Pair of George Nelson shelves that are not very common, in fact never seen another pair. Both have the Herman Miller Metal medallion with brushed steel legs.      ...
  Custom Contract George Nelson Walk Around CSS Display Case Room Divider
Dimensions: H 7 ft. 11 in. W 8 ft. 1 in. D 29 in.
Dealer Location: Ferndale, MI
Materials & Techniques: Aluminum, Glass, Walnut
Custom Contract George Nelson Walk Around CSS Di...
George Nelson
Mid-20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Shelves
Aluminum, Glass, Walnut
Rare custom contract George nelson walk around CSS display case room divider by George Nelson for Herman Miller.
George Nelson Two Bay CSS Shelving Unit with Desk. Herman Miller
On Hold
Dimensions: H 8 ft. 8 in. W 6 ft. 9 in. D 6 ft. 11 in.
Dealer Location: Brooklyn, NY
Materials & Techniques: Aluminum, Steel, Walnut
George Nelson Two Bay CSS Shelving Unit with Desk....
George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Shelves
Aluminum, Steel, Walnut
Two bay walnut CSS shelving unit designed by George Nelson for Herman Miller. Desk with lockable storage box, 48" bay with six drawers and storage box. The full height is 104, but can b...
George Nelson Four De La Baie Css Mural Étagère Pour Herman Miller, 1959
By Herman Miller, George Nelson
Dimensions: H 9 ft. 0.3 in. W 8 ft. 2.4 in. D 19.69 in.
Dealer Location: Grenoble, FR
Materials & Techniques: Steel, Wood
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 Wall-Mounted Shelf for Herman Miller, 1960s
By Herman Miller, George Nelson
By Herman Miller, George Nelson
Dimensions: H 6 ft. 6.7 in. W 8 ft. 7.9 in. D 12.99 in.
Dealer Location: Berlin, DE
Materials & Techniques: Aluminum, Teak
George Nelson CSS Wall-Mounted Shelf for Herman Mi...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Shelves
Aluminum, Teak
Rare CSS wall-mounted version by George Nelson. 13 boards and five poles in total.
George Nelson CSS by Herman Miller (14 bays)
By George Nelson
On Hold
By George Nelson
On Hold
Dealer Location: Houston, TX
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...