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 Herman Miller furniture company. 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, also convincing the likes of Charles and Ray Eames, Isamu Noguchi and Alexander Girard to work for Herman Miller.
The collaboration between Nelson and Vitra began in 1957. From 1946 onward Nelson also ran his own design office, creating numerous products that are now regarded as icons of mid-century modernism. Nelson's office also produced important architectural works and exhibition designs. George Nelson died in New York in 1986. His archive belongs to the holdings of the Vitra Design Museum.