George Nelson was not just a designer. He was also a trained architect, author, teacher, and the Design Director for Herman Miller. Nelson was a true multidisciplinary designer of his time who was also responsible for recruiting talents like Charles and Ray Eames, Alexander Girard, and Isamu Noguchi to design some of the most iconic mid-century modern furniture that’s still loved today.
The George Nelson Foundation was founded to advance the understanding of George Nelson, preserve his legacy, and be a resource for people to learn about his work and influence. We designed the branding to establish this new foundation and developed a new website to be the online resource for learning about George Nelson.
To introduce the new George Nelson Foundation, we needed to craft an identity system from the ground up, and ensure it would work well across print, digital, events, exhibits, merchandising, and collateral. The identity system expresses the bold and colorful nature of Nelson’s work that is a nod to the sensibilities and aesthetics of modern design, but also evokes their timeless, forward-thinking nature.
Since there was no public place for designers, students, and scholars to learn about George Nelson and his works, we designed the Foundation website to be a growing library of works, images, and resources about George Nelson. We applied Nelson’s philosophy of “designing to achieve integrity and unity” to the website. The grid-based structure organizes content visually and the clutter-free interface lets Nelson’s works be the focus, so users can learn about and discover his wide body of works that spans 12 disciplines including graphic design, architecture, furniture, exhibitions, office systems, and films.
Pulling from the archives of Herman Miller and Vitra Design Museum, we were able to create a visual timeline of Nelson’s life and career to show how he shaped the course of design for over 40 years.
The George Nelson Foundation officially launched with the new identity system, website, a symposium at Yale, along with a traveling exhibition “George Nelson Architect | Writer | Designer | Teacher” that traveled throughout the U.S. and Europe, as well as Asia. New records of his works, scholarly research, and archival content are shared on the website to inform, educate, and enrich.
— George Nelson