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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Rare Custom Contract George Nelson Walk Around CSS Display Case Room Divider
Rare Custom Contract George Nelson Walk Around CSS Display Case Room Divider
Offered by Tom Gibbs Studio
Dimensions: H 7 ft. 11 in. W 8 ft. 1 in. D 29 in.
Dealer Location: Ferndale, MI
Materials & Techniques: Aluminum, Glass, Walnut
Rare Custom Contract George Nelson Walk Around CSS...
George Nelson
Mid-20th Century American Shelves
Aluminum, Glass, Walnut
Rare custom contract George nelson walk around CSS display case room divider by George Nelson for Herman Miller.
CSS Free Standing Shelf by George Nelson for Herman Miller, 1960s
CSS Free Standing Shelf by George Nelson for Herman Miller, 1960s
Offered by Adore Modern
Dimensions: H 8 ft. 4.4 in. W 8 ft. 7.9 in. D 19.69 in.
Dealer Location: Munster, DE
CSS Free Standing Shelf by George Nelson for Herma...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Mid-20th Century Danish Mid-Century Modern Shelves
This shelfing unit can be placed as a room divider or as a wall unit.
George Nelson CSS Compressive Storage System for Herman Miller
George Nelson CSS Compressive Storage System for Herman Miller
Offered by George Gilpin
Dimensions: H 7 ft. 7 in. W 10 ft. 9 in. D 19 in.
Dealer Location: Brooklyn, NY
Materials & Techniques: Aluminum, Walnut, Lacquer
George Nelson CSS Compressive Storage System for H...
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Mid-20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Shelves
Aluminum, Walnut, Lacquer
Four section storage unit designed by George Nelson for Herman Miller. Sliding doors along the top offer cabinet storage. The lower cabinets offer drawers and a hanging file along with ...
CSS Wall Unit by George Nelson for Herman Miller
CSS Wall Unit by George Nelson for Herman Miller
Offered by Den Mobler
Dimensions: H 8 ft. W 9 ft. 6 in. D 17 in.
Dealer Location: Los Angeles, CA
Materials & Techniques: Steel, Walnut
CSS Wall Unit by George Nelson for Herman Miller
Herman Miller, George Nelson
Mid-20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Shelves
Steel, Walnut
A three-bay CSS wall unit designed by George Nelson for Herman Miller. This example has four uprights - three at 96”, and another at 84” height. The bay left-hand bay has a width of 48”...
George Nelson Four Bay Walnut Aluminum Omni Wall Shelf Unit
George Nelson Four Bay Walnut Aluminum Omni Wall Shelf Unit
Offered by Modern-Decor
Dimensions: H 8 ft. 2 in. W 10 ft. 10 in. D 18 in.
Dealer Location: Keego Harbor, MI
George Nelson Four Bay Walnut Aluminum Omni Wall S...
George Nelson
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Shelves
Omni wall shelf unit or room divider. Made of walnut and aluminum, by George Nelson. With tambour doors, sliding glass front, light up section. In excellent condition. The dimensions ar...
Wall Unit by George Nelson for OMNI
Wall Unit by George Nelson for OMNI
Offered by Archive 20th Century
Dimensions: H 8 ft. W 8 ft. 1.3 in. D 18 in.
Dealer Location: Laguna Hills, CA
Materials & Techniques: Aluminum, Steel, Walnut
Wall Unit by George Nelson for OMNI
George Nelson
20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Shelves
Aluminum, Steel, Walnut
Three bay wall unit by George Nelson for OMNI.
George Nelson Two Bay CSS Shelving Unit with Desk. Herman Miller
George Nelson Two Bay CSS Shelving Unit with Desk. Herman Miller
Offered by Paul Bright
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
George Nelson Four De La Baie Css Mural Étagère Pour Herman Miller, 1959
Offered by 5 Saint Andre
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 (...
Large Five Bay George Nelson Omni Wall Shelf System
Large Five Bay George Nelson Omni Wall Shelf System
Offered by Tom Gibbs Studio
Dimensions: H 8 ft. W 13 ft. 5.5 in. D 18 in.
Dealer Location: Ferndale, MI
Materials & Techniques: Aluminum, Steel, Walnut
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 CSS Wall-Mounted Shelf for Herman Miller, 1960s
George Nelson CSS Wall-Mounted Shelf for Herman Miller, 1960s
Offered by Original in Berlin
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)
George Nelson CSS by Herman Miller (14 bays)
Offered by The Exchange Int
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...