There aren’t many design movements that have such a lasting impact on the way we live as Modernism, where functionality, accessibility, quality and style are given equal footing. Dating back to the early 20th century, it’s a philosophy that still resonates and guides our thinking today.
As one of the founding fathers of American Modernism, George Nelson is responsible for some of the most renowned designs of the last century. A teacher, writer, designer and graduate of architecture, Nelson was an interdisciplinary — before interdisciplinary became a ‘thing’. He’s credited as being the person who first introduced modern European architects and design to the U.S., and one of his first designs — the adaptable, modular Storagewall — is now ubiquitous, forming the basis of inspiration for so many designs that have come since.
It was this Storagewall that caught the attention of D.J. De Pree, founder of Herman Miller, the furniture manufacturer responsible for some of the most iconic designs to come out of the U.S. Nelson soon became director of design at Herman Miller, and over his 25 years at the brand, created a product range that included pieces from other famed designers such as Ray and Charles Eames, Donald Knorr and Isamu Noguchi.
Among George Nelson’s iconic designs is the Nelson Platform Bench, which formed part of his first Herman Miller collection in 1946. A realisation of his design philosophy, to make an honest visual statement about an object’s purpose, the Nelson Platform Bench is exactly what it says on the tin (or in this case, the 1948 Herman Miller furniture catalogue). It’s described as “primarily a high base for deep and shallow cases, but it also serves as a low table for extra seating”.
The bench is composed of solid wood slats (in either light maple or dark walnut), spaced evenly to allow air and light through, and is propped up by subtle polished chrome or more substantial ebonised wood legs. Coming in three different lengths for a range of room sizes and purposes, the Nelson Bench can be used as seating, a table or storage, acting as the base of George Nelson’s Basic Cabinet Series.
Just as relevant, functional, modern and forward-thinking today as it was in the mid-20th century, the Nelson Platform Bench is a high quality, truly iconic piece of furniture that will have a place in any home, office or public space for generations to come.