Design Cuboid

Winter semester 2017 – aesthetic theory –
Prof. Justus Theinert – Jonas Engelhardt

The design cuboid reflects the design attitude of the US designer and architect George Nelson in a physical manner.

How would George Nelson design today?

This was the question of my Uni project. The task was to build a cuboid with 5cm X 10cm X 20cm of size. It had to reflect the design approach of a designer, in my case George Nelson (1908-1986). He is a famous designer, architect and publicist from the US. Nelson started to work at the Howard Miller clock company and designed a lot of famous clocks. After that, he began to collaborate with the Herman Miller furniture company as a Design Director and led Charles Eames to success. He was well known as the pioneer for vanguard design language in the 20th century. With the help of Nelsons literature and drafts, I created this cuboid referring to his understanding of design.

George Nelson


Born on 29 May 1908 in Hartford, (Connecticut) and died on 5 March 1986 in New York City, George Nelson was one of the most successful American designers. He was also an architect, publicist and lecturer. After school, he studied architecture at Yale University from 1924 to 1928. Later on, a scholarship enabled him to obtain the stay at the American Academy in Rome. From 1935 he was co-publisher and editor of “Architectural Forum” and “Fortune”. In addition he wrote for the magazine “Pencil Points”. In the 1940s and 1950s George Nelson designed numerous wall clocks for the Howard Miller Clock Company, including the “Ball” wall clock from 1947. From 1946 to 1966 he also worked as design director for Herman Miller (furniture company). During this time he helped Charles Eames to success at Herman Miller. George Nelson is therefore also considered a pioneer of furniture design. In 1947 he founded an industrial design office in New York, which was renamed “George Nelson & Associates” in 1955 due to the partnership with Gordon Chadwick (1915-1980, architect). Together with Gordon Chadwick he developed the Swag Leg Chair. In 1955 he designed Nelson’s “Coconut Chair” and in 1956 the “Marshmallow” sofa. The well-known designer company “vitra” sold George Nelson’s furniture from 1957. Nelson made the European avant-garde known in the United States and is therefore considered a pioneer of avant-garde design forms of the 20th century.

‘You don’t think your
way to creative work.
You work your way
to creative thinking.’

by George Nelson

“Design and human needs” (1979)

In his writing he describes fundamentally
two aspects: First, our society, through social change, has lost sight of its own human needs. In short: Our world is not designed for human beings and thus the reason for a declining quality of life. Because for every problem in our society, there is an expert who can solve it. Society no longer questions, but trusts science and technological progress. Our human needs should not be seen as a problem that can be solved by blind trust. Rather, our needs are the core of our common life together. That is why designers in particular must have a great sensitivity for people.

Materials and design elements

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