Collection by Alex Ronan

George Nelson’s Ball Clock May Not Be His After All


Put together a bunch of great designers, heavy drinking, and some sketch paper, and the next morning you’ll end up with at least one great design. The problem? No one will remember who made it.

The Ball Clock is credited to George Nelson Associates, but even Nelson isn’t sure who made it. Isamu Noguchi, Bucky Fuller, Irving Harper, and George Nelson spent an alcohol-fueled night goofing off and one-upping each other with outrageous sketches. The next day, Nelson discovered the Ball Clock amongst the drawings. “I don’t know to this day who cooked it up,” he’s since said, adding, “I know it wasn’t me. It might have been Irving, but he didn’t think so.”

Produced in 1948, the Ball Clock’s playful colors speak to the nation’s optimism and the scientific potential of the...
The Ball Clock was the first of more than 150 clocks designed by George Nelson Associates for the Howard Miller Clock...
A Nelson Ball Clock and subway sign decorate one hallway.
Mark Neely and Paul Kefalides’s living room is decked out with the couple’s vintage finds, including a Hans Wegner...
In this Parisian home, the Ball Clock is mounted on a kitchen wall just above the children’s height markings.

Get a Daily Dose of Design

Sign up for the Dwell Daily Newsletter and never miss our new features, photos, home tours, stories, and more.