Architect and designer George Nelson (1908-1986) is one of the founders of American modernism. Born in Hartford, Connecticut, Nelson studied architecture at Yale University, where he graduated in 1928. Finding few projects in architecture, like many architects of the time, he turned to product, graphic and interior design.
Based in Rome he travelled through Europe and met a number of the pioneers of modernism. When he returned to the USA a few years later he established himself as a writer becoming an associate editor at Architectural Forum from 1935-1943 and later becoming consultant editor from 1944-1949. During this time he penned many noteworthy musings which introduced Walter Gropius, Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier and Gio Ponti to North America.
However, it was his book Tomorrow's House, which introduced the concepts of the "family room" and "storage wall" that attracted the attention of Herman Miller chairman, D.J. De Pree, who in 1945 asked him to become the furniture companies new design director. During his time at Herman Miller, Nelson set new standards for the involvement of design in all the activities of the company. Nelson passed away in New York City in 1986.
Today, Nelson’s best known designs include the Marshmallow Sofa, Coconut Chair, Ball Clock and Sunflower Clock.