Wall Clocks Collection
In 1947, the American designer George Nelson was commissioned to create a collection of clocks. Nelson analysed how people used clocks and concluded that they read the time by discerning the relative position of the hands, which made the use of numbers unnecessary. Furthermore, since most people wore wristwatches, he assumed that clocks had become more of a decorative element for interiors. These ideas provided the basis for the first collection of 14 timepieces, consisting of a completely new style of wall clocks and compact table clocks, which were launched on the market in 1949. Although the models all shared one common feature – the absence of numbers – the diversity of their shapes, colours, materials and designs could hardly have been greater.
George Nelson, born 1908 in Hartford, Connecticut (USA), studied architecture at Yale University. A fellowship enabled him to study at the American Academy in Rome from 1932 to 1934. In Europe, he became acquainted with the major architectural works and leading protagonists of modernism. In 1935, Nelson joined the editorial staff of the 'Architectural Forum', where he was employed until 1944. A programmatic article on residential building and furniture design, published by Nelson in a 1944 issue of the journal, attracted the attention of D.J. DePree, head of the furniture company Herman Miller, Inc. A short time later, George Nelson took on the position of Design Director at Herman Miller. Remaining there until 1972, he became a key figure of American design; in addition to creating furnishings for the home and office, Nelson also convinced the likes of Charles & Ray Eames, Isamu Noguchi and Alexander Girard to work for Herman Miller. In 1957, Vitra founder Willi Fehlbaum signed his first licence agreement with Herman Miller to produce furniture for the European market. During the ensuing decades of the collaboration with Vitra, a close friendship evolved between George Nelson and Rolf Fehlbaum, who later said about Nelson: 'No other prominent designer spoke as intelligently or wrote as coherently about design'. Nelson expressed his thoughts on design topics in numerous articles and eleven books; his seminal treatise 'How to See' was recently reissued in a new edition by Phaidon. Along with his position as Design Director at Herman Miller, Nelson opened his own design office in 1947, George Nelson Associates, Inc., working together with such outstanding employees as Irving Harper, Ernest Farmer, Gordon Chadwick, George Tscherny and Don Ervin to create countless products and objects, some of which are now regarded as icons of mid-century modernism. His architectural work included numerous private residences. George Nelson died in New York in 1986.