Monday, December 22, 2008

Modern Design Icon 101

George Nelson is a modern design icon. He is most well known for his relationship with furniture designer Herman Miller. He actually got the attention of Herman Miller when Life Magazine featured one of his designs in a 1945 issue. Herman Miller founder D.J. DePree saw the article and met with Nelson in New York, and he soon became Herman Miller's director of design. Nelson also went on to found George Nelson & Associates, his own design firm.

His partnership with Herman Miller "shepherded design into the modern era," where he worked over 25 years. Modern classics like the Marshmallow Sofa and the Coconut Chair are still must-haves in modern homes, offices and museums. You would probably recognize Nelson from his Herman Miller designs- including my favs, the Swag Leg Series of tables, desks and chairs and his Platform Bench. Here is a little history for ya on both designs-

Swag Leg Series
Originally introduced in 1958, the Nelson Swag Leg Group is just as relevant today as it was in the late 50s and 60s. The perfect addition to any modern home office, the pieces can be used together or separately. The desk has just the right amount of work surface, and those colorful little cubbies make desktop organization a snap. The Swag Leg Chair is probably one of the better known pieces from this series - its separated seat and back have a sculpted look and feel, flexing with the sitter for supreme comfort.

"Swaging" is the process in which the legs in the series are manufactured by "using pressure to taper and curve a metal tube." The goal with this series was to create stylish yet easy to assemble pieces that could ship flat to cut down on costs. Nelson received permission from Charles and Ray Eames to use their patented plastic molding process to make the shell, going a bit further and creating two separate shells - one for the seat and one for the back. Today, while the design itself hasn't changed, the shells are made of recyclable polypropylene for an added eco-friendly benefit.

Nelson Platform Bench
The Nelson Platform Bench made its first appearance in 1946 and was part of Nelson's first collection for Herman Miller. It was reintroduced in 1994. Made of solid maple, the Nelson Platform Bench is a perfect addition to any living room, vestibule, bedroom or office. The slats were spaced to let air and light through and finger-jointed legs make it extra durable and strong. The Nelson Platform Bench is a quintessential multipurpose piece and can be used as either a low table or as a bench.

While there's no substitute for a Herman Miller chair, (I have an Aeron at work and it’s done wonders for my posture) it’s not all office furniture. Over the years, Herman Miller has been a modern design magnet, attracting some of the most famous and talented designers, including Mr. Nelson. Which piece strikes your fancy?

*love love love* the platform bench

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