Irving Harper (July 14, 1916 – August 4, 2015)
Whilst Irving Harper made a huge contribution to modern industrial design, he is often thought of as one of the great unsung heroes of the era. Harper created many iconic works during the 40s to early 60s but much of his work was attributed to George Nelson as was the company policy. Harper even designed the Herman Miller logo with no formal training in graphic arts.
After attending Cooper Union and Brooklyn College, Irving Harper worked as a draftsman for the Gilbert Rohde’s office during the 1930s. In the 1940s Harper met George Nelson. In 1947 he was offered a job as an interior designer and joined George Nelson Associates. He worked on a variety of projects but it was the Marshmellow Sofa and many of Nelson’s modern clocks which would achieve the most notoriety. Some even attribute the Ball clock to Harper although it remains unverified. Irving would remain with George Nelson until 1963 before forming Harper+George, a design company with Phillip George.
Towards the end of his career Harper would make paper sculptures as a way to unwind. These remarkable creation so far remain part of his family’s private collection but number over 500. Harper is regarded as amongst the most prolific designers of the modern era. Although very well regarded in industry he has yet to achieve the fame of his comtemporaries amongst the public.