Works from the Estate of Sue Kohler

Sue Kohler lived a life devoted to art, architecture and design. Born in Grand Rapids, educated at the University of Michigan with advanced degrees in art history, Sue met her husband, the architect Carl R. Kohler, at Cranbrook where she had landed her first curatorial position at the Museum of the Cranbrook Academy of Art. They married in 1953, traveled extensively for his position at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, and eventually settled in Washington, DC in 1959. 

Raising three children, Lisa, Peter and Eric, in their Georgetown row house, the Kohlers amassed an eclectic collection of midcentury modern furniture, architectural fragments and antiques. In 1974, Sue began a 35-year career as Chief Historian for the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, ultimately retiring at the age of 80. During her tenure at the Commission, she co-authored many books on Washington DC architecture and planning, including Designing The Nation’s Capital: The 1901 Plan for Washington, DC.

The present lot is drawn from the Estate of Sue Kohler, and reflects her lifelong passion for studying and collecting American design.

George Nelson & Associates

Born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1908, George Nelson studied architecture at Yale University, teaching for a short time before the Great Depression. In 1932, he won the Rome Prize and spent the next two years studying design in Italy. Returning to the states, Nelson sold his essays to Pencil Points and became an associate editor at Architecture Forum and Fortune magazine. After reading Nelson’s innovative book Tomorrow's House, then president of Herman Miller furniture company D.J. De Pree hired Nelson as design director. Nelson launched his first collection in 1947 and transformed the struggling company into a groundbreaking leader in the field. Nelson remained at Herman Miller until the mid-1960s, and was responsible for bringing Charles and Ray Eames, Alexander Girard and Isamu Noguchi on board.

In 1947, Nelson opened his own design studio, George Nelson Associates, Inc. which at one time employed over seventy people. The company’s work within corporate settings revolutionized the concept of branding and elevated industrial design to new heights. Throughout his career, Nelson continued to write critically about design across multiple planes, teaching and consulting until his death in 1986.

Auction Results George Nelson & Associates