Added : June 01, 2008

Last Updated: November 16, 2010

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TOPIC / Furniture Design

George Nelson (1908-1986) and the Pretzel Chair

George Nelson (1908-1986) and the Pretzel Chair

In honor of George Nelson’s 100th birthday, Vitra has released a special re-edition (limited to 1,000) of Nelson’s Pretzel Chair (from 1952).

“n the 1950s, George Nelson and his New York office developed a series of individually expressive seating furniture, a number of which have long established themselves as classics. In 1952, predating the famous Coconut Chair or the Marshmallow Sofa, he designed a chair made of moulded plywood originally referred to simply as the “Laminated Chair”. The bold and elegant curve of the seat back and armrest soon earned it the nickname Pretzel Chair...” —from Vitra

The Pretzel Chair is by no means representative of George Nelson’s full body of work. He began his career as an architect. But when there weren’t enough new projects coming in, he turned his creativity and talents towards other areas of design, including graphic, furniture, and interior design. George Nelson was also the Associate Editor of Architectural Forum magazine from 1935-1943.

When I think of George Nelson the first designs that come to mind are his clock designs for Howard Miller (Herman Miller’s brother). The AIGA has a great article on Nelson’s legacy and also showcases the variety in his design portfolio. One of my favorites is his simplistic package design system for Abbott Laboratories (seen below)

excerpt of Articulating the Eye by Judith Nasatir:

“George Nelson was not a graphic designer. He called himself, simply, a designer. He practiced a variety of the so-called design disciplines during his fifty-odd calendar years of ceaseless professional activity. His formal training was in architecture. He became extremely well known as a furniture designer, an industrial designer, an interior designer and exhibition designer. He was in the vanguard of a quiverful of design "disciplines" which were only becoming bona fide professions, or at least ways to make a living, at the same time he began to turn his hand to them. Or when he began to write about them. Or when he began to do the work that proliferated and sneaked in many, often unexpected, directions.”

(all images of the Pretzel Chair seen here are © Vitra Design Museum)


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