1957 was the start of another great collaboration for design powerhouse Vitra when George Nelson, American architect, designer, acclaimed writer and editor, began creating various new products that are now considered to be icons of mid-century design. Among these are his series of desk clocks made in 1947 and 1953, and wall clocks made in 1948 to 1960.



The postwar period was marked by a strong sense of rebuilding, and growth towards economic prosperity. Countries like Nelson’s own America embraced the idea of possibility, and in combining different materials to form sculptural shapes, the designer brought the 1950s characteristic joie de vivre into the everyday house clock. Distinctive and refreshing, they brought Nelson’s sense of modernism to the household. Coming in a variety of designs and made with quality quartz mechanisms, the clocks continue to be favorite, well-sought items from the range of his works with Vitra.

Born 1908 in Hartford, Connecticut, George Nelson took a degree in architecture at Yale University. As part of a fellowship he received in 1932, he studied at the American Academy in Rome. It was there where he first encountered major architectural works by the principal proponents of modernism in Europe. Shortly after meeting the chairman of furniture company Herman Miller in 1944, he was appointed design director of the firm and became influential in bringing other great designers such as Charles and Ray Eames, Isamu Noguchi, and Alexander Girard into the company. From 1946, he ran his own design office, during which his partnership with Vitra began. Aside from the works he made in collaboration with Herman Miller, and later on Vitra, he also produced numerous important architectural work and exhibition designs. He also wrote brilliant essays and spoke in various lectures, speaking about design as an integrated practice that must be considered in the context of greater concerns and interests. George Nelson died in 1986, leaving his archives with the Vitra Design Museum.

Every society lives out its span in the grip of certain ideas which are so powerful and so widely held that people are scarcely aware of them. These ideas come to a focus in what might be described as a ‘master area’ and they spread out from there to give the entire community its character.

– George Nelson


Bring the 1950s joie de vivre into your home with George Nelson’s iconic Vitra clocks. Visit the Vitra display at MOs Design today.