Irving Harper Reveals How the Marshmallow Sofa Was Born

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More than 50 years after it debuted it in the Herman Miller catalog, the Nelson Marshmallow Sofa (at right) is still as much fun as you can have with 18 cushions and a brushed steel frame. But how did this now iconic design come about? Irving Harper, whose first assignment upon joining George Nelson‘s office (after Nelson poached him from Raymond Loewy) was to design the Herman Miller logo, reveals all in the June issue of Metropolis. Included in Paul Makovsky and Belinda Lanks‘s excellent feature on the Nelson office are excerpts from interviews with members of his talented team, including Harper:

How did the Marshmallow sofa come about? One weekend, I thought about doing an upholstery unit, and wondered, Is there any way to do a sofa out of reproducible parts that could be done as if fitted out to a frame? I cooked up this model out of a checkers set, and I stuck the checkers disks on a metal frame, and it looked good to me. So I drew it up, brought it in, and that was the birth of it.