Museum of Me, or What I Want not What I Need
George Nelson Basic Cabinet Series
I live in a 100 year-old, 1200 square foot, Craftsman-style home on the north end of Ohio State University campus. It is the perfect size for me and my dog Daisyfuentes, an adorable lazy mutt, probably a mix of beagle, basset hound and maybe cow. There are three bedrooms, only one of which is used as such. The other two have been repurposed to be functional for my needs: one converted into a den/music room, and the other into a studio where I create various things amid the chaos of other unfinished projects and ideas.
While the house is a perfect size for my “needs”, it is nowhere near big enough for my “wants”. I love objects. I find furniture to be a fascinating art form. I can appreciate the design of a dinner plate. I want all of the things, all of the time. I often joke that I will eventually buy a second house just so I can furnish it with things I can’t fit into my current one. Case in point, this modular cabinet set up that recently arrived in our store.
First manufactured in 1946 by the Herman Miller Furniture Company, the Basic Cabinet Series (BCS) was designed by George Nelson, one of the founding fathers of American Modernism who also happened to be the Director of Design for the esteemed furniture company from 1945-1972. Nelson helped create some of the most quintessential examples of mid-century modern design while working with some of the most notable names in the industry including Charles & Ray Eames, Isamu Noguchi, and textile designer Alexander Girard.
The BCS was originally designed to be as functional as possible while being versatile enough to accommodate any situation. The pieces could be freestanding with legs or could be used in a modular set up atop the Platform Bench that has become one of Nelson’s most iconic pieces. There were many different finish options for the case as well as the hardware and the entire line grew to include pieces for almost every room in the modern home. Production on the BCS ceased in 1958, but the line was reintroduced in 2011 as an ideal storage solution for the modern age.
Nelson was a visionary. He understood how the needs of a person would change over time and how products should be adaptable to meet those changing needs. In the BCS, he created a line of furniture that could grow and expand as a customer’s life changed. With the clean, simple design that modernism is known for, Nelson crafted furniture that somehow managed to be all about function without sacrificing beauty.
In my house of wants, my “Museum of Me”, I would find the perfect place for this exceptional piece of furniture. Maybe it would hold my record player and vinyl collection. It could possibly be a perfect storage solution in my home office or in the entryway underneath a large, colorful painting. I can even see it as a sideboard in my dining room, holding linens and glassware and bar tools for the dinner party I will never throw because THIS IS A MUSEUM DO NOT TOUCH THE THINGS.
Just kidding. I’m a firm believer that furniture is to be used and enjoyed. There is form, but there is also function. One without the other is just disappointing. This Basic Cabinet Series setup can be functional in so many different scenarios, and so beautiful to enjoy at the same time. One of the perks of my job is getting to appreciate such wonderful things and not feel like they all have to go home with me. Someday maybe I will have that Museum of Me, but until then, I will continue to enjoy being surrounded by beautiful objects while on the clock.
PS- My birthday is in August in case you feel so inclined.