George Nelson Benches

Written by Nicholas Kamuda
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The most common of all George Nelson benches is the Platform bench, which was originally issued by Herman Miller in 1946. At the time, Nelson was the Director of Design at Herman Miller, a position that afforded him many great opportunities in art and design, including commissioning work from a number of architects and sculptors. His Platform Bench, which was introduced just after Nelson joined Herman Miller, was one of the first products that he would produce with the company.

In contrast to later George Nelson benches and sofas, the Platform bench utilizes a quiet, singular design that sets it apart from his more colorful designs of the 1950s. The bench is made from slats of maple lying parallel to one another over a simple, lacquered wood base. The light color of the maple slats catch light and reflect it, while the slats cast simple, geometric shadows on the surrounding area.

The Design of George Nelson Benches

In form, the bench owes much to earlier International Style architecture. In fact, it was Nelson, though his early writings, that introduced the Internationalists to much of America. The planar forms and clean, understandable spaces that are defined by Platform Bench reflect much of the foundations of Internationalism as set forth by Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, and the rest of the International Congress of Architecture.

Despite it's obvious International heritage, the materials of George Nelson benches are undoubtedly American. At the time, Nelson, Eames, Noguchi, and other American designers were using plywood and other wood textures to great effect in furniture design. Many European architects, especially those who were previously involved in the Bauhaus, were developing manufacturing technologies in tubular steel and other materials.

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