The Spindle Clock (1957) is one of more than 150 clocks designed by George Nelson Associates for the Howard Miller Clock Company, which sold them from 1949 into the 1980s. Nelson Associates, first launched as a studio by George Nelson in 1947 in New York City, employed some of the most celebrated designers of the time, including Irving Harper, Don Chadwick and John Pile, all of whom contributed to the clocks. Until its closure in the mid-1980s, the company designed a range of products for many clients, including Herman Miller, Inc., which was established in 1923 by Howard Miller’s brother-in-law, D.J. De Pree. A bit of family history: De Pree also founded the Herman Miller Clock Company in 1926 but turned it over in 1937 to Howard, who renamed it. As for the identity of Herman Miller, he was Howard’s father and De Pree’s father-in-law. The Miller companies are not affiliated but stand across the street from one another in Zeeland, Mich. The Spindle Clock was designed by Lucia DeRespinis, now a professor at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y. It appeared in the original Miller brochure as Model 2239. This is an authentic Nelson Clock, produced by Vitra Design Museum. Uses one AA battery (included). Made in Poland.
In the 1950s, very few industrial designers were women. Lucia DeRespinis was one of them. "I was the only industrial designer who was a woman. I was always the only industrial designer who was a woman," DeRespinis recalls.
In the minority from the start at Pratt Institute, she was one of just three women among 63 men in her class. She graduated in 1952 after studying under notables Rowena Reed Kostellow and Eva Zeisel then, two years later, went to work at the Nelson office, where she was thrown into a wide range of work. "I did everything," she recalls. "I designed everything from rugs to tableware to exhibits and trade shows to graphics to restaurants to interiors. Everything." Read more >