Cool Dude: Industrial Designer

American industrial designer George Nelson (1908–1986) was one of the founders of American Modernism. A great numbers of his designs (clocks, benches, lamps, couches, storage systems) are so iconic they are considered mid-century classics. Many of these designs are still in production and can be found in museum collections. As the design director of the Herman Miller Inc. office furniture manufacturer he introduced designers like Ray and Charles Eames and Isamu Nogushi to the general public.


GN: What is the crowning glory of your civilization… the symbol as clear a statement as the pyramids, the Parthenon, the cathedrals? What is this symbol? What is its name? Its name is Junk. Junk is the rusty, lovely, brilliant symbol of the dying years of your time. Junk is your ultimate landscape.George-Nelson George-Nelson

To See is to Think

He was also a prolific writer and lecturer.  In 1977 he published the book How to See, a kind of how-to guide that shows us how to look and recognize the visual world that surrounds us, as everything around us has been designed. It is about the visual meaning of design, i.e. “decoding the origins of the man-made” world. As an amateur photographer he had his camera by his side all the time, always looking for images to illustrate his vision. Many of these can be found in the book.

GN: No design can exist in isolation. It is always related, sometimes in very complex ways, to an entire constellation of influencing situations and attitudes. What we call a good design is one which achieves integrity – that is, unity or wholeness – in balanced relation to its environment.


Want to learn more about this cool dude? Please visit the George Nelson Foundation.