At A Glance: This desk is part of the Nelson Swag Leg series - one of the most celebrated furniture suites in modern design history, and certainly one of George Nelson's greatest accomplishments for Herman Miller. Graceful, minimal, and a perfect marriage of the practical and the whimsical, this is a great desk to look at, and a great desk to work at as well.
What's To Like: The simplicity of classic style and modern design, and a beautiful, functional desk. All wrapped up in the form of a major work by a major designer.
What's Not to Like: There aren't a lot of high performance features on this desk, by design. For instance, no cubby holes or places for your keyboard. This desk is as straightforward as it gets.
The Bottom Line: A great desk, a great work of art, and a classic piece of modern design.
The Nelson swag leg group is a revival of a historic collection by George Nelson. Introduced in 1958, the group's evocative chairs, tables and desks have a look, scale and function that are right for today. These classic, sculpted designs can be used individually or together in the home or office. This space-efficient desk makes a good place in a home to pay bills or use a laptop, which fits nicely into one of the desk's colorful cubbyholes.
White laminate top surface, solid walnut side and back panels. 4 hardwood dividers (2 orange, 1 spa blue, 1 chartreuse) and 2 black-plastic pencil drawers. Chrome-finished steel tubing base construction with a solid walnut stretcher. Adjustable glides and grommet for cable management.
34.5" h x 39" w x 28.5" d
Work surface: 39" w x 18.875" d
See the entire Nelson Swag Leg collection.
The first piece of furniture Nelson turned his attention to was the desk. The desk wasn't the fixture in the home that it often is today; indeed, furniture like the kind Nelson was about to create would help define what the home office meant in post-war middle class America. But Nelson knew that one of the main subjects his series of furniture would tackle was the intersection of work and home life in American living rooms and home offices. He wanted his desk to reflect that tension, as well as ease it and create a workable "solution."
He wanted it to offer both storage for work materials and space for decoration and display. He wanted it to be sturdy, but movable and flexible. He wanted it to be beautiful enough for any room of any home, and useful enough for nearly any task or job. He wanted what he eventually designed; a desk for the ages, an original prototype, and a blueprint for many of the modern desks that would come after it.
And even today those attributes have lost none of their appeal for usefulness. One of the main reasons this furniture is being re-issued today is because Herman Miller designers and enthusiasts realized that the storage spaces in the desk were perfect for laptops, hard drives, MP3 docks, and dozens of other small-scale electronics that we use for work and home in the modern age. Of course the display space on the top back of the desk is still there for use as well; framed photographs, flowers and vases, art work and certificates of commendation; all those and more can fit comfortably right there on the top of the desk. Of course, it would also be a great resting spot for work-related books, or an Internet router.
One of the most amazing things about the desk is that it anticipated, way back in 1958, how the implements of American work would get smaller and more precise (to make allowances for those who needed more space, the Nelson Swag Leg Work Table was on the way). It isn't the only thing of historic import the desk predicted, but it was one of the most impressive. And it's not as if the Nelson swag Leg Desk was the latest in a long line of furniture with ideas that had been refined through experience and tons of re-drafting; no, this was the first in the series, the original idea, and even with nothing else yet created in the series, it worked, and has worked, for more than half a century.
The Herman Miller Nelson Swag Leg Desk is also known by the following manufacturer Item Numbers: NS5850.