George Nelson: Safety first.

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Apparently back in ye olde 1950s, before the interwebs turned everyone into “the press,” they used to hold press conferences for designers. In honor of George Nelson’s 105th birthday today, I was clicking around the New York Times archives and found this brilliant nugget of his, quoted from the 1950 “Trends in New Design” press conference: “The dangerous becomes safe as soon as three people have bought it.”

The press from those days notes how his use of technology created for other industries – such as bent steel for a car’s fender – was totally revolutionary…unsafe, if you will. And his clear response? Eh, you’ll get used to it. “Familiarity breeds acceptance,” he once said. His Swag Leg pieces (the Desk is pictured above) are perfect examples of this innovation. The swaging process, which uses pressure to taper and curve a metal tube, was invented for industrial uses, not exactly for the creation of sleek, functional interiors.

So, George, we salute you and your mind-boggling forethought. Probably not an example of forethought, but fortuitous nonetheless, his Swag Collection – as well the entire Herman Miller® collection – goes on sale on Friday.