A hub for all things to do with design, furniture painting, photography, style, event planning [and some foodie bits for good measure].  

Meet Nelson: Bench[mark] of Modern Design

'May the odds be ever in your favor', I think to myself as I awake on Saturday mornings to begin my furniture hunting quest. The odds really are against me, as Atlantans love their antiques, their mid century's, their vintage finds.  I wish I had some special secrets to divulge on how I discover my pieces [it's the number one question I get asked by nearly every person who purchases furniture from me!], but I really don't.  It's part knowledge of where to go: thrift stores, the right antique shops [not all are created equal!], yard sales, estate sales, flea markets, and so on. But most of it's just luck and impeccable timing, which is exactly what happened when I struck furniture hunting gold with NELSON!

This is Nelson.  He's kind of a big deal [okay, mostly for furniture nerds], partly because he has a fabulous name, but mostly because he's one of the classics of mid century design.  The first Nelson bench was made in 1946, and is considered a 'landmark of modern design' for good reason. 


Its clean lines and simple construction are not flashy or opulent; its blonde maple top sits above ebonized wood legs that make the bench seem as if its floating on air [or at least floating on my carpet]. 

I could regale you with the design history of this famous piece, but the Herman Miller website does it far better justice than what I could paraphrase. Some might think 'well, it's just a bench', but if you have any interest for design, [specifically, modern design] you'll appreciate Nelson quite differently.


This bench was designed with versatility in mind.  Seems like an obvious concept, but in the 40s, it was quite innovative. To think, a piece of furniture that could be used as seating, as a table, as a spot to hold shelves or cabinets, or as whatever you could envision.  How novel!

Furniture that can be reappropriated to fit all sorts of spaces is worth its weight in gold. I might live in this home for the rest of my life [good size, flexible enough to move furniture wherever I'd like, within reason]. I also might move back to New York, or to a completely new city or country or planet [well, probably not] where entire apartments are as big as my bedroom, and I'll have to choose wisely what to take with me.  Needless to say, Nelson will always make the cut. 

The real kicker is how much I paid for my multitasking mid century modern marvel [say that three times fast]. While thrifting one Saturday morning, I stumbled upon this guy and couldn't believe what I saw, a $25 sticker, haphazardly drawn on with sharpie marker. Even if it was a knockoff in poor condition [but it was in great shape!], $25 was a STEAL.  I practically ran the bench to the cashier and made my way home, not entirely sure if it was the real deal.  But with proper research and vetting, it was in fact a true Herman Miller, albeit, not a 1940s one, but frankly I preferred this pristine modern version. 

This sweet little benchmark [get it? It's a bench!] of modern design currently retails for $899 [classic design doesn't always come cheap, folks!].  I purchased it for $874 LESS.  Of course I could sell him for a sizable profit, but I'd never dare.  Nelson will always be a reminder to keep on the hunt for furniture finds and other vintage treasures; you really never know what you might find!  On that note, Happy Friday and Happy Hunting! -Jo