Are you sure?

You still have in your basket

If you continue to our gift website, these items will not be present in your new Utility Gift basket.s in your basket won't carry over to the gift site.

However, your Utility Design shopping basket will be saved here for 30 days should you wish to return to it.

COVID-19 Update : We Are Still Delivering Worldwide | Sign Up To The Utility Newsletter For 10% OFF Your First Order

  1. Home
  2. Blog
  3. Designer of the Month : George Nelson

Designer of the Month : George Nelson

It was a chance happening involving a rainstorm and a student exhibition that inspired George Nelson to study architecture. Seeking shelter from the weather, he found himself in the doorway of Yale’s architecture school, and was distracted by the student work on display. Years later, after his graduation from Yale in 1928, he won a fellowship to study at the American Academy in Rome, and left for Europe in 1932. From interviews with leading designers such as Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, Walter Gropius and Gio Ponti, Nelson created twelve portrait articles that were published in the magazine Pencil Points. With this series, his aim was to ensure that European modernism was introduced to America in an accessible way. He had succeeded - and in the process, earned himself a reputation in the world of design.

"Design is a process: one starts with a need, a problem, and ends up with a design for a thing"

- George Nelson

Working as an associate editor at Architectural Forum from 1935, George Nelson had chance to study architectural and design theory as part of his work. He would stay employed as an editor there until 1944 (during which time he set up a short-lived architecture firm that closed at the outbreak of war), when he joined Herman Miller, Inc. as its Design Director, remaining there until his retirement. Over this time, George Nelson became a key figure in American design, creating furnishings for the home and office. Items such as the Ball Clock, Coconut Chair and Nelson Bench became ubiquitous, and to this day are associated with mid-century modernism.



In 1941, Nelson’s designs for the Sherman Fairchild House were realised. Built specifically for inventor and industrialist Sherman Fairchild, it was a modernist townhouse with a minimalist façade and pioneering floor plan - centred on a courtyard. However his central architectural project was Experimental House (1951-1957). This prefabricated home would be expandable through additional modules, and built on stilts to provide elevation. Although the project was never realised, it was influential in its own right – demonstrating the innovative approach to design that George Nelson took throughout his career.

No other prominent designer spoke as intelligently or wrote as coherently about design.

- Rolf Fehlbaum (Member of the Board of Directors of Vitra)

Nelson was an articulate and concise writer who penned a number of books throughout his career. How To See was perhaps the most influential. In it, he described how it is possible to learn to read images, just as we can read words. Originally published in 1977, the book was recently rereleased by Phaidon and remains as relevant as it ever was. After his death in 1986, his estate was given to the custody of the Vitra Design Museum. It includes 7400 items: manuscripts, plans, drawings and slides, covering the whole course of his career.

Shop George Nelson designs here.
See how Oliver Hooson styles his Nelson Bench here.

Time for more? The Story of Nanna Ditzel | Designer of the Month : Alvar Aalto | The Eames Lounge Chair

Next Working Day Delivery

View UK delivery options

Delivering to 150 Countries

View delivery options

Thank You Messages

I have rarely experienced such excellent quality advice, support and reliability. Your staff communicate effectively and helpfully. I am a truly satisfied customer. I love my String Shelving and I will not hesitate to return to Utility for my next purchase. Thank you!

Oct 24th 2019 | Sarah

Your customer service has been fantastic. I'm seriously impressed. Really pleased to be able to place the bigger order and make your time worthwhile. I think I need to send you a medal!

May 19th 2019 | Jason

I just wanted to express my thanks again for your great customer service. I ordered my items less than 24 hours ago and I’ve amended my order- yet I still have my order here with me now. You went out of your way to deliver my order and I’m very grateful. I wish more places had people like you :-)

May 14th 2019 | Louise

Thanks so much for your extraordinary service. -

Jun 19th 2019 | Maria (US)

Thanks again for such amazing customer service - I have honestly been so impressed by everything! Thank you for doing such a wonderful job

Jun 19th 2019 | Amber

Excellent customer service and immediate response to enquiry (live chat). Very happy every time used Utility both online and on high street.

Jun 28th 2019 | Jo

I couldn't be happier with the custom made sofa bought through the online store. It is perfect and made all the more enjoyable by buying it through the guys at utility. Ben and Paul who delivered the sofa were amazing, kind and really helpful in a difficult situation (of course the lift broke when I was getting something delivered). Would highly recommend!

Aug 13th 2019 | Holly

Just wanted to message and say that I'm a big fan of the Utility Stores and the types of products you guys sell. I work close by to the Manchester store at University Green, so I'm popping in a fair bit generally for cards, gifts, etc. I just nipped in again this afternoon about one product I'd bought earlier and the staff were super helpful and attentive. It made it really easy, and I was in and out in no time.

Aug 13th 2019 | Richard

Just wanted to drop you guys a quick note to say how happy I am with the service I have had. Especially the two guys who delivered/carried into an awkward space/built/then took away the packaging, not to mention then gave me a lift into town. Thank you. Plus the sofa looks amazing. I will definitely be using you guys more in the future and will highly recommend you to anyone who will listen.

Sep 13th 2019 | Luke

Thank you for all your help and customer service, the Eames Lounge Chair arrived yesterday and I love it.

Nov 1st 2019 | Ross

Comment: I just wanted to say that Esther on the checkout in the L1 store made my day today she was so friendly

Dec 9th 2019 | Katy