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Designer spotlight: george nelson

Emerging from the darkness of the Great Depression, George Nelson flourished as a shining American designer. Known for his innovative visions and provocative creations, his work stands as an iconic staple in the world of decor. With interests spreading into photography and humor, his craftsmanship denotes a welcoming, light-hearted feel-- combined with fine architectural panache. Essentially, his pieces create one of those “aha” moments, inspiring you to stop, stare and appreciate. As an owner of a Nelson piece, you automatically become a connoisseur of fine furniture--let’s find out why.

A background worth praising

Nelson studied architecture at Yale University, granting him first-class training. Then following, he studied at the American Academy in Rome from 1932 to 1934. Here, his style was transformed! While in Europe, he cultivated his style to eventually become noted as one of the leading figures of American modernism.

In addition to design, Nelson was an accomplished writer on the nature of design. Over the course of forty years, Nelson developed a body of work that included hundreds of furniture,architecture, exhibitions and illustrative designs, as well as dozens of books and magazine articles.


Most notably, in one of his most revered articles, he conducted interviews with prestigious architects to create a series of twelve portraits on the major creatives of his time. The articles, published in the magazine Pencil Points, launched Nelson’s reputation as a go-to authority on all things design-based. His articles  were always written using his witty brand of humor and insight. In turn, his ideas on architecture helped evolve the movement of modernism.

Nelson’s clever clock designs

To many, George Nelson is best known for his clock designs.  The George Nelson Wall Clock brilliantly captures his style, combining gorgeous shapes and lines, along with clear, reliable functionality. Each of the four quarters feature its own vintage color and floral shape, while the funky black hands are bursting with quirky personality. Then, on a basic design level, the clock reveals the essentials of balance and unity. It’s a piece worthy of applause, and even more certainly, something special to modernize your space.

The Ball Clock is another impressive design in Nelson’s repertoire. Its spherical shapes, representing the numbers, are arranged in a cyclical form to playfully suggest a solar system. Meanwhile, the spheres are attached by industrial gold bars and the center features simple, cut-out shapes-- a stunning minimalist approach! As a spectator, it’s rare to see such innovation in your standard space.

The white motif

On a simpler note, Nelson’s table work has a more primary feel. The George Nelson coffee table is designed with a smooth white surface, allowing it to blend into almost any colour scheme seamlessly. In terms of structure, its strong aluminium central column adds stability, allowing you to relax and enjoy this leading standard of modern American design.

Similarly, the George Nelson Bubble Lamp continues this theme of simplicity. It floats elegantly in any room, consolidating the entire space. The material that’s used on the Bubble Lamp was originally inspired by the materials used by the US Army in World War Two. Among these materials was the special plastic polymer spray used by the US Army to protect and keep old aircraft and ships in good condition. Dazzled by these textures, Nelson crafted his lamps to reflect the history and culture of his age.

Modern wood work

Nelson works wonderfully with wood materials as well. His miniature chest, for instance, shows his love for modern materials. It features solid side panels with bevelled tops and nine drawers, each accented with a cylindrical silver knob-- almost bullet-like. It’s this clever embellishment that gives the chest a sense of modernity and fun flair.

You can enjoy Nelson pieces for less by investing in premium imitation designs. At Voga, you may browse through Nelson’s impressive collection of works and bring his historic artistry home.