George Nelson’s history reads like a designer’s dream. He rubbed shoulders with Buckminster Fuller, headed Herman Miller’s design division for a quarter of a century, and recruited Noguchi and Eames. Above: the Nelson Marshmallow Sofa is an unforgettable piece which continues to find a place in homes even after 50 years of service. Created in 1956, the Marshmallow is simultaneously formal and optimistic; a poster child for postwar enthusiasm, the sofa consists of an array of 18 bubbly cushions on a brushed tubular steel frame.
With arms that radiate explosively and brash colors, Nelson’s graphic clocks are essentially self-contained fireworks displays. The Ball Clock is both youthful and iconic with a mod/retro “lollipop” design, while George’s Spindle and Sunburst Clocks are somewhat more composed but make equally bold statements (I particularly love the turned solid walnut arms on the Spindle Clock).
Very few things say mid-century like Nelson’s slatted Platform Bench. A simple, utilitarian bench made primarily from maple, the bench can double as a coffee table or display stand. The slatted design in particular is ubiquitous due to endless imitation–perhaps the ultimate form of flattery.
The Coconut Chair is a fundamentally simple design with a curved seat and shallow sides (not unlike a coconut shell) that allows for multiple seating positions. Made from one-piece foam rubber and upholstered in leather, the Coconut is both striking in design yet tasteful in presentation. This combination has ensured wide appeal and is present in many of George Nelson’s products. Undoubtedly a rare breed, he was (and continues to be) an integral part of the global design milieu.