September 30, 2013

George Nelson is one of those ingenious designers who managed to infiltrate, almost surreptitiously, our lives. Especially impressive, when you consider that he was more interested in a career as a journalist and theorist than as an industrial designer. After graduating Harvard School of Architecture he traveled throughout Europe, interviewing the Modernists – Walter Gropius, Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier and Co – and the profiles and think pieces he published in Architectural Forum magazine totally shaped the nature of mid-Century American design. The chairman of Herman Miller was so impressed that he offered Nelson the top job of Director of Design, and it was under that manufacturer’s aegis that iconic pieces like the Ball clock (1948), the Marshmallow sofa (1956) and the Coconut chair (also 1956) were produced. Targeting mass market and a new breed of post-War affluent consumer, he imbued his designs with a kind of Jetsons, Space Age allure. Unlike the Old World Modernists, there was a sense of humour to Nelson’s designs. Populist, they successfully demonstrate that good design can be fun to live with. Produced in partnership with the Swiss Vitra Centre for Design, George Nelson, Icon of American Modernism presents an extensive and exemplary selection of pieces by one of the Twentieth Century’s most prodigious sons. On til November 10, 2014.


Author: Nick tobias