The Kirkpatrick House

A Modernist gem in Kalamazoo

george nelson associates architecture modernism usa herman miller mid century modern
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Above: Located in Kalamazoo, Michigan the Kirkpatrick House designed by George Nelson. Photo: Paul Barbera

Located in Kalamazoo, Michigan on a secluded wooded lot, is a Modernist home designed by a man who originally never set out to be an architect but rather ‘stumbled’ into it. George Nelson, while attending Yale, was walking through campus when a rainstorm hit. Ducking into the nearest building to escape the rain he came upon an exhibition of architecture student models and illustrations called ‘A Cemetery Gateway’. Taken with the exhibition Nelson soon found himself enrolled in the architecture program.

Period photos of the Kirkpatrick House. Click on image for full view.

And while he trained as an architect Nelson would do very little in the way of designing buildings and homes. After being hired by Herman Miller in 1940 – as their director of design despite having no experience – he soon left to form George Nelson & Associates, a firm that would go on to create many of the icons of American Modernism, many of them manufactured by Herman Miller.

george nelson associates architecture modernism usa herman miller mid century modern

Period photo of the Kirkpatrick House by Julius Shulman. Click for full view. Photo: Julius Shulman / Getty Archives

But there is one notable moment where George Nelson plied his architectural craft. Designed in 1955 for James and Sally Kirkpatrick (Sally Kirkpatrick was the college roommate Frances Hollister who was married to George Nelson) is the Kirkpatrick House. Corresponding by letter, Nelson, along with his associate Gordon Chadwick, created space tailored to the needs of the family with its interiors and furniture designed by Nelson’s Associates. The steel-framed home is a striking example of the International Style and beautifully reflects George Nelson’s time studying in Europe prior to the Second World War. It makes one wonder why he didn’t design more homes.

The Kirkpatrick House, designed by George Nelson in 1955. Click on image for full size.

george nelson associates architecture modernism usa herman miller mid century modern

Architect and Designer George Nelson (1908 – 1986)

 

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Lori S.
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Lori S.

Such a sophisticated mix of neutrals, wood, and color. Very lovely.