George Nelson (1908-1986) was a thinker, writer, organizer and designer, who led a revolution in the furniture Market, on how to use little space and yet, improve modern life. In the catalog of 1952 Herman Miller, wrote that the displayed pieces should be “a permanent collection … in the sense it will not be scrapped for each market or for each ‘new trend.'” Like almost every design and project has become a popular icon for the look of that period and is still so today, it is clear that Nelson achieved his goal. Born in Connecticut, he studied architecture at Yale, graduating in 1931.
In 1932, he went to Rome and toured Europe for many years, following the international style as Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius. Once back in the US, he began writing and quickly became associate editor of Architectural Forum (1935-1943) and later editor-consultant (1944-1949). His writings dealt with relevant problems of smaller housing projects and changes in offices, seeking to adopt some random attributes. Nelson published countless books.
In the 40s, he became project director at Herman Miller Company. Its effect on the company was extraordinary. His keen eye for modern designs led to Charles Eames and Isamu Noguchi. The catalogs created for the company had an immeasurably positive and lasting impact on its public image and its introduction of a unified philosophy of the company, including simple slogans such as “the product must be honest,” and “what you do is important.” During this period, he also developed objects and furniture that contributed to innovation, even if not all produced by the company. Nelson has also designed the company’s showrooms in Chicago, New York and Washington. He worked as exhibition designer on various projects.