If you’ve ever kicked back in your family room, maybe perched in a midcentury Coconut Chair and reading under a Bubble Lamp, you’ve got designer and architect George Nelson to thank.
The Hartford, Conn.-born Nelson (1908-86) came up with the idea of the family room in his 1945 book Tomorrow’s House, and was responsible for creating some of the most recognizable postwar designs in furniture and lighting for home and office while serving as design director for the Herman Miller furniture company in Zeeland, Mich., and also as head of his own studio, George Nelson Associates Inc. In addition to furniture, Nelson also designed dishes, flatware, typewriters, weathervanes, tiles, and rugs.
This master of modernism is being saluted by the Cranbrook Art Museum in the exhibit George Nelson: Architect, Writer, Designer, Teacher, on view through Oct. 14. Although he didn’t work at Cranbrook, Nelson was well-acquainted with some of the titans who did, such as Charles and Ray Eames and Eero Saarinen. The exhibit, which is divided into five subject areas, was organized by Germany’s Vitra Design Museum.