Posts Tagged ‘Herman Miller’

The Full Nelson. George Nelson’s Gate Leg Dining Table

The Full Nelson. George Nelson’s Gate Leg Dining  #4656 for Herman Miller.

Nelson Table open

George Nelson Dining Table #4656 for Herman Miller restored by TC Woodcrafters.

George Nelson’s gate leg dining table #4656 was designed for the Herman Miller Company in 1946. The table illustrated was recently restored by my friends at Tim and Anne Donn at TC Woodcrafters in Traverse City Michigan.  Woodcrafters beautifully restored the finish and damages that occurred  from normal use.  The table was produced from 1947-1960  and is shown in American Walnut. It was also manufactured in South American Prima Vera solids and veneers. The underside of the table top is stamped with #17. It is unclear if this a factory “batch” number or the 17th table produced.

This type of table gate leg table converting from a console table to a dining table borrows from traditional designs as far back as the 17th century Jacobean period.  The table stylistic departure from traditional furniture as well as Nelson’s design accentuating  the joints function into a design detail is unique in American mass produced casegoods of this period.   The top featuring  large notched style rule joint “knuckle joint” creates a beautiful interlocking pattern across the width of the top.  The more refined rule joint with hidden hinges would have been the only acceptable method  traditionally used on high-quality furniture.  Here Nelson makes a feature of the joint on both top and the gate leg supports.  More research needs to be done to see if Nelson borrowed this technique  from Danish cabinetmakers or this construction detail unique to his work.   This type of exposed knuckle joint was later widely adopted on dining tables by American Craft Furniture makers in the 1970’s.  The Nelson table #4656 is in the permanent collection of the Vitra Design Musem in Germany.  Dimensions H. 29.5″, W. 18.5″ – 65″ D.40″

The dining table was one of Nelson’s very early designs for Herman Miller.  He was appointed the company’s first Director of Design in 1945.  Max Depree the president of Herman Miller sought out George Nelson after the death of the great American designer Gilbert Rohde in 1944. Note: click on images to enlarge.

George Nelson's gate leg dining table

Nelson Table fully open

George Nelson's gate leg dining table

Underside of top showing spring catches to hold the legs in place when the table is closed

 

George Nelson's gate leg dining table

Nelson Table with hinge detail along edge of leaf

 

George Nelson's gate leg dining table

Top stamped #17. Hinge knuckle detail for drop leaf. A wire rod runs the width of the table to act as a hinge pin. A wood block is glued in to fix it in place.

George Nelson's gate leg dining table

Gate leg joint detail on center pedestal

George Nelson's gate leg dining table

Detail of typical rule joint construction used on traditional furniture