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Nelson Swag Leg Armchair

Product Story

We decided to reintroduce the classic Nelson swag leg group because the retro yet modern chairs, tables, and desks have the look, scale, and function that are just right for today. The chair design is stylish, elegant, and—although 50 years old—completely contemporary. It goes nicely with the swag leg desk and tables, and this classic design is also at home with other furniture, modern or traditional.

Nelson Swag Leg Armchair

What's a Swag Leg?

We named this furniture for the process that created the distinctive legs because designer George Nelson started with this idea: "Wouldn't it be beautiful to have some kind of sculptured leg on a piece of furniture?" How could that be done without wood and hand-carving tools? Using pressure to taper and curve a metal tube—the process called swaging—proved a success.

Strong, Stylish, Comfortable

George Nelson used separate pieces for the seat and back and glued them together, so the swag leg armchair can flex with the sitter. A slit between the seat and back helps prevent heat buildup. Wide, flat arms provide a comfortable place to rest forearms.

The look is light-scaled, sculpted, and delicate, but the base is strong, and the recyclable polypropylene shell is durable.

Shells are available in white, grey, or black. Legs come in chrome, white, or black. Choose a shell and base that match or mix.

Design Story

George Nelson began with the legs, insisting that they be made of metal, machine formed, and prefinished. And beautiful. Swaging—using pressure to taper and curve a metal tube—proved to be the best way to produce the legs, which are 16-gauge steel and have adjustable glides. Nelson designed an entire group around this idea, including a desk, work table, and dining tables.

The shell echoes another familiar form. Nelson borrowed (with permission) the patented process for molding plastic that Charles and Ray Eames had developed. But he added a twist. He created separate seat and back shells and then glued them together. The result is a sculptural shape that fits the body and provides a bit of give.

Placed at a desk or work table or around tables in dining areas or conference rooms, this chair fits today's needs just as it did when it was first introduced, in 1958.