George Nelson or design as a system
Sep 9, 2008

George Nelson was of the opinion that a designer who deals creatively with peoples’ needs “must first make a radical and conscious break with all the values he considers inhuman.” Nelson’s credo was that designers must be conscious of the effects their work has on humans and society. Not least of all for this reason he considered total design “nothing more or less than a process of relating everything to everything.”

Nelson was a pioneer of modern design precisely by dint of this ability to see things in relationship to each other, coupled with his multifarious activities made. Yet Nelson was not just a successful designer but also a much admired author and publicist. And as design director for furniture manufacturers Herman Miller, he influenced its program and image for more than two decades from 1946 on. He brought Charles and Ray Eames, Isamu Noguchi and Alexander Girard to Herman Miller.

In his first half year at Herman Miller, Nelson introduced his Platform Bench, a bench for accommodating both people and objects. With its clear lines and the potential to use it in a variety of ways it still stands today for the durability and flexibility of modern design. His innovative new ideas included the design of a wall unit system that pioneered the way for systems furniture and which caused a real sensation in the furniture industry of the day.

The exhibition presents Nelson the planner and furnisher of the single-family house, the mastermind of modern office landscapes, the mastermind behind the Herman Miller corporate design, and as an exhibition designer, author and publicist. nj

George Nelson – architect, author, designer, teacher
Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein
From September 13, 2008 to March 1, 2009

Coconut Chair and stool, 1955
Coconut Chair and stool, 1955
Daybed, 1950
Ball Clock, 1948
Bubble Lamps, ca. 1952
Fairchild House, 1940/41
Swag Leg Group, 1958
Zoo Clocks, 1965
Comprehensive Storage System, 1959
model for the American National Exhibition "jungle gym", Moscow, 1959
George Nelson, ca.1965