George Nelson was born in 1908 in Connecticut. He studied architecture at Yale and from 1932 to 1934 at the American Academy in Rome through a fellowship position. Whilst he was working in Europe he became involved with the major figures of the modernist movement.
In 1935 he joined the Architectural Forum as an editor, creating content on residential building and furniture design. His published works were read and admired by Herman Miller.
Miller offered Nelson a position as the design director of his furniture manufacturing company. He was vital in the company's acquiring of the designs from iconic designers such as Charles and Ray Eames and Alexander Girard.