'Action Office 1' Roll Top Desk by George Nelson for Herman Miller

'Action Office 1' Roll Top Desk by George Nelson for Herman Miller


Impeccable 'Action Office 1' roll top desk by George Nelson for Herman Miller.

This roll top desk was designed as part of the Action Office 1 (AO1) furniture line by George Nelson.

The whole range was a concept of Robert Propst, who worked for Herman Miller, but the pieces were designed by George Nelson. So rather than a furniture item or a collection of them, Action Office was a proposition for an altogether new kind of space. The main concepts behind the AO1 furniture line were the physical and psychological needs of the office workers, and on the other hand, the rationalization of working methods.

The rounded edges of this desk are also conceived with the user in mind: they reduce the possibility of injury. There is also a privacy feature that is embedded within this piece, namely the roll top cover of the desk that can hide paperwork from curious co-workers or guests. It saved workers time as there was no need to clean one's desk at the end of the work day. With regards to the aesthetics of this desk and the AO1 line, the line was intentionally designed to be distinct from other office furniture of the time.

The mix of materials that Nelson used, the polished aluminium, the laminated plastic and the wood for the tambour door had never been used before. Together with the design elements that ranged from stocky to elegant, the range can be seen as modernist, functional and also traditional at the same time. George Nelson (1908-1986) was an architect, writer, lecturer and designer who was one of the first to pick up Industrial Design in the United States. Nelson fundamentally questioned the basis of furniture business.

After initial reluctance Nelson came to work as a designer and director at Herman Miller in 1944. Here, Nelson rejected the purely market-oriented type of business model that was predominant in the furniture sector and plead only to make furniture of which he was completely convinced: the rest would follow. In his first year at Miller, he produced 77 of his designs. Nelson believed furthermore that the industrial designer brought together all the arts. His designs are recognized by open shapes, clean lines and modest forms.

Literature: Vegesack, Alexander von and Eisenbrand Jochen. George Nelson. Architect / Writer / Designer / Teacher. Weil am Rein: Vitra Design Stiftung, 2008, p. 158-160.

Excellent original condition with virtually no wear. Measurements are for the overall dimensions. The top surface is a standard 29 1/4 in. from the floor.

H 34.5 in. x W 54 in. x D 30 in.

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