Nelson Platform Bench - The Ideal Slat Bench

The Slat Bench

Created by George Nelson, an architect who focused on graphic, product and interior design, the "Nelson Platform Bench" is an enduring icon of modern design. Also known as the Nelson Slat Bench, this piece of furniture was originally introduced in the Herman Miller catalog in 1946 and is still available today (reintroduced in 1994). It is a timeless piece that is as functional as it is beautiful. Versatile, attractive and strong, the bench is multi-purpose and can be used as an accent piece, a platform or for seating.  Common uses include using the slat bench as a seating bench, coffee table, and as a platform for displaying things such as plants, art work, stereos, etc. Easily identifiable by its clean, and simple lines, this striking piece of furniture can be seen in living rooms, office spaces, libraries and banks around the world. It has become one of the most 'collectible' furniture pieces from the 20th century and has become a benchmark of modern design. A 1955 Herman Miller catalog describes the bench as "one of the most flexible and useful units in the collection." This statement still holds true today.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
A used Nelson bench, selling for $600.  Real benches will have a stamp of authenticity on itTwo Nelson Benches make a nice coffee table Source: Herman Miller
A used Nelson bench, selling for $600.  Real benches will have a stamp of authenticity on it
A used Nelson bench, selling for $600. Real benches will have a stamp of authenticity on it
Two Nelson Benches make a nice coffee table Source: Herman Miller
Two Nelson Benches make a nice coffee table Source: Herman Miller

The Design

The deliberate, smooth and rectilinear lines of the bench reflects Nelson's architectural background and approach to design, providing functional minimlaism and conveying visible purpose. The two black U-shaped legs are aesthetically contrasted with its solid natural wood slats. The 'simple' design is elegant and practical. The Nelson Bench comes in three sizes: 48 in, 60 in, 72 in length. All three sizes are 14 inches high and 18.5 Inches deep. The twelve slats that comprise the top of the bench are hard maple and the base is ebonized maple wood.  Mounted under the base are 4 metal glides. Offered in a natural maple or black painted top, the twelve slats are spaced to allow air and light through. The bench's finger-joint base design provides strength and smooth construction.


The Nelson Bench

Click thumbnail to view full-size
source: Herman Millersource: Herman Miller
source: Herman Miller
source: Herman Miller
source: Herman Miller
source: Herman Miller

Nelson Benches

Click thumbnail to view full-size
the 6 ft. Nelson Bench has two cross struts on the top [source DWR]the 4 ft. and 5 ft. Nelson Benches both have just one cross strut on the top [source DWR]
the 6 ft. Nelson Bench has two cross struts on the top [source DWR]
the 6 ft. Nelson Bench has two cross struts on the top [source DWR]
the 4 ft. and 5 ft. Nelson Benches both have just one cross strut on the top [source DWR]
the 4 ft. and 5 ft. Nelson Benches both have just one cross strut on the top [source DWR]

Spotting Fakes

Much like the Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman, the Nelson Bench is one of the most collectible modern design furniture pieces from the 20th century. It is offered through Herman Miller and each piece comes with proof of authenticity. You can purchase the bench from upscale retailers like Design Within Reach.  Like the eames chair, there are many unauthorized reproductions and 'fake' versions of the collectible Nelson Bench. However, it is much harder to identify unofficial versions of the Nelson Bench.  A quick test is to count the number of slats to make sure there are 12 of them and to measure the dimension of the bench to check that they match with the officially released version's. The 6ft Nelson Bench has two cross struts on the top, while the 4 and 5 foot benches both only have just one cross-strut.  Many cheaper imposters lack the clear-coat finish on the top slats and are not assembled with the finger-joint base design.

More by this Author


Comments 1 comment

Iris Lebow profile image

Iris Lebow 6 years ago

Great information! I didn't even know an authentic version was still made today. Loved your hub.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working