Authoring Design: Examining George Nelson’s Writing Reveals The Key To Creating Timeless Design

It’s easy to predict the future, but nearly impossible to get it right. Yet time and again, designer George Nelson did just that. In 1945, George Nelson and Henry Wright authored Tomorrow’s House—a kind of guidebook for progressive homebuilders. While it chronicles each element of the house—with chapters illustrating new concepts in living, dining, kitchens, bath—what stands out today is Nelson’s almost counterintuitive approach. Rather than dwelling on form or aesthetics, for example, in the “Sleeping” chapter Nelson writes, “Let us take time out and look at the bedroom, not as a room with some standard furniture in it, but as the area in which a great variety of activities takes place. People read in their bedrooms, they dress there, occasionally eat there, frequently smoke, and sometimes write; they may listen to the radio, and they certainly make love.” The message becomes clear: a house of tomorrow should focus on the reality its inhabitants faced.

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