In 1946, architect George Nelson became the design director at Herman Miller furniture company, despite having zero experience with furniture. During his reign until 1972, he took Herman Miller from the then-present of wood-based designs into the future with iconic designs and innovative materials. And thus he started American Modernism.
One of Nelson’s designs representative of American Modernism is the bubble lamp, designed in 1947. It stemmed from him wanting a Swedish hanging sphere lamp that was covered in meticulously wrapped in silk—and very expensive. After coming across a grubby store sample one at Bonniers, a Swedish import shop in Manhattan, for a whopping $125 (this was in the late 1940’s), George had the idea to create a similar one. He headed back to his office where they built a wire frame and used self-webbing spray, a plastic that had been developed for using during World War II. Only just weeks before he has seen a photo in The New York Times of Liberty ships from the war that were being preserved for potential immediate use in the future, also known as mothballing them by covering the decks in netting and spraying the self-webbing plastic.
See how George Nelson’s bubble lamp has been used in homes then and now …