Nelson worked on what he called “House Ideas” for LIFE and Architectural Forum, and one of the innovations that emerged from this project made a splash on the cover of LIFE in 1944: the Storage Wall. Shown with hands akimbo and a resigned expression, a blonde woman smartly dressed in heels and a day ensemble of separates gazes at a pile of stuff, the doors of the Storage Wall open and waiting to solve her conundrum. But the floor isn’t piled with just any stuff: it’s very specifically the stuff of postwar middle-class life, which is to say, leisure.
Like Rohde before him, Nelson understood that America’s booming consumer culture had carved out a new territory for the modern home. Rational labor and regular work hours meant that people had leisure time, and increasingly, disposable income. Leisure time meant toys, games, books, televisions, radios, tennis rackets, and all the other ephemera that stared down the overwhelmed wife and mother posing with Nelson’s Storage Wall on the cover of LIFE. The magazine article introduced readers to a hypothetical New Jersey family with young children who could spend time near the Storage Wall, at once playing games, reading books, listening to music, and catching up on bills, all in the same room. (One could argue that every picture-perfect 21st century living space that boasts a big open wall of shelves full of technology, books, art, and plants owes a tip of the hat to George Nelson.)