George Nakashima: Woodworker, MIT Grad, Icon.
“Furniture, we feel, is a development of mood besides being purely utilitarian. Basic forms with the reflection of the constancy of nature find satisfaction in times like ours.
A small poetic haven in an unsettled world where excitement seems so necessary.”
George Nakashima, from his 1962 Studio catalog
George Nakashima, Woodworker, is what his business card read. He’s that, and a whole lot more. “Today Nakashima is regarded as one the most important artisans of the American studio crafts movement.” from Primavera Gallery
“George Nakashima was born in Spokane, Washington in 1905 and grew up in the forests of the Olympic Peninsula. He received a Bachelor’s Degree in architecture at the University of Washington (although he enrolled in the University to study forestry and switched majors after two years) and a Master’s from MIT in 1930, as well as the Prix Fontainebleau from L’Ecole Americaine des Beaux Arts in France.
During the 1930’s Nakashima lived in Paris and from there he traveled to Japan to familiarize himself with his ancestral roots. It was in Tokyo that Nakashima joined Antonin Raymond’s firm which allowed him to work in Pondicherry, India, where he supervised the building of the dorms at the Sri Aurobindo ashram, a project which would have a profound impact on the designer. For this project Nakashima created his pieces of furniture.
At the start of World War II he headed back to the U.S. but not before returning to Japan where he met his future wife, Marion. Once back in the US, in 1941 (the same year that he married Marion), the couple settled in Seattle. In 1942, the year that his daughter Mira was born, Nakashima and his family were sent to the internment camps in Idaho. With Raymond’s help, Nakashima was able to get out but only after the architect promised that the designer would work for him on his farm in Bucks County, PA. It was here that Nakashima began his business and built his home and workshop, known as the Conoid studio. (“Conoid” is also the name of his very famous chairs from 1960).” from Primavera Gallery
It was George Nakashima’s dream to provide “Altars of Peace” for each of the seven continents on earth. Constructed from a magnificent pair of matched Black walnut, the first “Peace Altar” was consecrated and installed at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City in 1986.
The second Sacred Table, built to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations in 1995, was made from the same monumental black walnut tree as the first and blessed at the same Cathedral. After serving its mission as a unifying presence at The Hague Appeal for Peace in May of 1999, it resides in the newly renovated Russian Academy of Art in Moscow to help inspire peace in the new millennium.” from NakashimaWoodworker.com
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Apartment Therapy (via)
Slabs of reclaimed wood have a more contemporary feel to them when used as tables. Paired with sleek modern or contemporary chairs, this slab table recalls the designs of mid-century design master, George Nakashima. from Hewn and Hammered
image from What Wilson Wants
George Nakashima’s work is highly collectible. If you want a less expensive reproduction evocative of hi work, I found these items below. To view any coffee table more closely at Amazon, please click on image of table below.