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George Nelson was part of a generation of architects that found too few projects and turned successfully toward product, graphic and interior design.
Through his early writing in "Pencil Points", he introduced Walter Gropius, Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier and Gio Ponti to North America. He defended sometimes ferociously the modernist principles and irritated many of his colleagues who as "industrial designers" made, according to Nelson too many concessions to the commercial forces in industry.
In his post-war book: Tomorrow's House, he introduced the concept of the"family room". One of those innovative concepts, the "storagewall" attracted the attention of D.J. De Pree, Herman Miller's president. In 1945 De Pree asked him to become Herman Miller's design director, an appointment that became the start of a long series of successful collaborations with Ray and Charles Eames, Harry Bertoia, Richard Schultz, Donald Knorr and Isamu Noguchi. Although both Bertoia and Noguchi expressed later on regrets about their involvement, it became a uniquely successful period for the company and for George Nelson. He set new standards for the involvement of design in all the activities of the company, and in doing so he pioneered the practice of corporate image management, graphic programs and signage.
Among the best known designs are his marshmallow sofa, the coconut chair, the Catenary group, his clocks and many other products that became milestones in the history of a profession that he helped to shape.