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George Nelson & Herman Miller Company #George Nelson


Herman Miller Company represented throughout the 50’s and the 60’s the uttermost expression of the “American way of living” when it came to furniture. Their pieces, for the home as well as for the office, were developed by the best American designers of that time, among them Charles and Ray Eames.


Herman Miller’s design director was the architect and designer George Nelson. Nelson was also in charge, together with graphic designer Irving Harper, of the company’s corporate image and graphic design, including its well-known logo. Nelson designed for the company all sorts of furniture, such as benches, chairs, storage systems, cabinets, lamps, etc. Although the main part of his work was devoted to storage systems and office desks, the most iconic and popular pieces among his production may be the most cheerful and colourful ones, true forerunners of pop art, such as the Coconut Chair, the Marshmallow Sofa and the Ball Clock.


“The industrial designer is an artist because he shapes things in an effort to give order and beauty to a mass of material, and because in doing so he infuses an emotional content into an inanimate object”. George Nelson, “Business and the Industrial Designer”, Fortune, July 1949.

There was such an identity between Nelson’s work for Herman Miller and the “American way of living” that the USA Government assigned Nelson to capture it in Moscow in 1959 for the American National Exhibition, the largest and most ambitious representation of the American way of living on soviet land during the Cold War. The exhibition included a geodesic dome by R. Buckminster Fuller where Glimpses of America, a documentary by the Eameses, was shown simultaneously on several screens. Nelson also built a colossal modular frame called jungle gym that would be filled with the products of American industry, including obviously the furniture from the Herman Miller Company.