Friday, February 12, 2010


Japanese American woodworker, architect and furniture maker George Nakashima (1905 – 1990) was one of the leading innovators of 20th Century furniture design and a father of the American Craft movement. After earning a Master's degree in architecture from M.I.T., Nakashima sold his car and purchased a round-the-world steamship ticket. He spent a year in France living the life of a bohemian, and then went on to North Africa and eventually to Japan. While in Japan, Nakashima went to work for Antonin Raymond, an American architect who had collaborated with Frank Lloyd Wright on the Imperial Hotel. While working for Raymond, Nakashima toured Japan extensively, studying the subtleties of Japanese architecture and design. In 1937, Raymond's company was commissioned to build a dormitory at an ashram in Pondicherry, India for which Nakashima was the primary construction consultant. It was here that Nakashima made his first furniture. In 1940, Nakashima returned to America and began to teach woodworking and to make furniture in Seattle. Like others of Japanese ancestry, he was interned during the Second World War and sent to Camp Minidoka in Hunt, Idaho, in March 1942. At the camp he met Gentaro Hikogawa, a man trained in traditional Japanese carpentry. Under his tutelage, Nakashima learned to master traditional Japanese hand tools and joinery techniques. Perhaps more significant, he began to approach woodworking with discipline and patience, striving for perfection in every stage of construction. Nakashima's signature woodworking design was his large-scale tables made of large wood slabs with smooth tops but unfinished natural edges, consisting of multiple slabs connected with butterfly joints. Since 1990 Mira, Nakashima’s daughter has extended the tradition of the George Nakashima Studio not only by producing the classic and traditional lines, but by continuing the evolution of new design solutions by way of her new line, the Keisho Collection.

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images: (click on images to enlarge)
Minguren IV dining table & Conoid chairs, vintage (top)
Grass seat chairs (2nd)
Slab coffee table (3rd)
Conoid Lounge & ottoman, vintage (4th)
King size platform bed, vintage (bottom)

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