George Nelson (American, 1908–1986) was an industrial designer, architect, and journalist, and one of the founders of American Modernism. Born in Hartford, CT, he received a BFA from Yale University, and later studied at the American Academy in Rome. Between 1935 and 1949, he worked as an associate editor and then consultant editor for the journal Architectural Forum. During this time, Nelson wrote in defense of Modernist principles, arguing that it was the designer’s job to improve the world by following the rules of nature.
In 1940, Nelson co-authored the book Tomorrow’s House with Henry Wright. In it, he introduced the concept of the "family room" and "storage wall."
From 1946 until 1972, Nelson was director of design at Herman Miller. While there, Nelson introduced several important innovations in office furniture design, such as the Swagged Leg Group, which included the DAF and MAA chairs. Among other things, the back of the MAA featured a flexible back, which could be adjusted at a 90-degree angle. In 1946, Nelson designed Platform, a simple and functional bench.
His best-known designs include the 1955 Coconut Chair and the 1956 Marshmallow Sofa, with a seat and back made of individual round cushions. He also created a number of wall clocks for the Howard Miller Clock Company, in addition to hanging bubble lamps.
Nelson died in New York at the age of 77.