George Nelson Retrospective at the Cranbrook Museum of Art

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The Marshmallow Sofa

The Marshmallow Sofa

The first comprehensive retrospective of George Nelson, a key figure in the post-war American modernism movement, will open at the Cranbrook Museum of Art in Detroit on June 16. Nelson is best known for his 1946 platform bench and 1956 Marshmallow Sofa, co-designed with Irving Harper (featured on MODERN’s Winter 2012 cover). Nelson was involved in the design process of numerous iconic 20th-century pieces during his time as Herman Miller’s director of design. Nelson’s landmark designs however were only one facet of his involvement with the modernist movement. Nelson regarded the world as a field of case studies on design and was fascinated by modernism’s potential to shift the paradigms of domestic interiors for better living conditions. Nelson wore many hats as a modern designer and the exhibition “George Nelson: Architect, Writer, Designer, Teacher,” celebrates the breadth of his influential career. The exhibition arranges Nelson’s work into four thematic clusters of private house designs, corporate designs, office space designs and exhibition designs along with original plans and drawings. An extensive overview of Nelson’s writings and films in which he addresses the topics of urban planning, consumerism and aesthetic perception is also included. These elements offer insight into Nelson’s importance as a visionary of modern design.

“George Nelson: Architect, Writer, Designer, Teacher” was organized by the Vitra Design Museum in Germany and sponsored by Herman Miller. The Cranbrook Art Museum is the final stop for the touring exhibition before it returns to Germany. Opening on June 16, the exhibition will be on view until October 14.

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