Editor’s note: During his time design director for Herman Miller, George Nelson recruited a series of talented designers including Ray and Charles Eames, Isamu Noguchi, Robert Propst and Alexander Gerard. During Nelson’s tenure, Herman Miller produced numerous iconic designs including, the Eams Lounge Chair, Marshmallow Sofa and Noguchi coffee table. And, as the literal foundation for the modern cabinetry system featured in Herman Miller’s 1948 catalog, George Nelson’s own platform bench is an important piece from the history of Mid-Century Modern furniture. In this excerpt from his new book on the style, author Michael Crow shows you how to build the iconic Nelson Platform Bench. Crow’s “Mid-Century Modern Furniture” is available in paperback for preorder and available now as a downloadable PDF at ShopWoodworking.com.
George Nelson’s platform bench served as the foundation of his first collection for Herman Miller, underpinning the Basic Cabinet Series. Alone, it functions as a bench or table (its slatted top is perfect for easy cleanup and drainage outside), but combined with other units in the Basic Cabinet Series, it becomes a chest or cabinet. As drawn here, it features a wooden base, but it was also available with metal legs. Simple construction techniques underlie the minimalist form. Half-laps join the pieces of the top, splined miters join the base, and screws connect the base and top. It was originally available with a natural birch top and ebonized base, or with ebonized top and base.
For more projects like this check out “Mid-Century Modern Furniture: Shop Drawings & Techniques for Making 29 Projects” by Michael Crow.