GEORGE NAKASHIMA

1905-1990
United States

« Each flitch, each board, each plank can have only one ideal use. The woodworker, applying a thousands skills, must find that ideal use and then shape the wood to realize its true potential. »

• George Nakashima •

George Nakashima is one of the greatest designer of the 20th century, internationally known for his wooden creations : he brings it into being, he enhances it ; he reveals the substance, he preserves the defects, without ever forcing the material.

Born in 1905 in Seattle to Japanese emigrant parents, George Nakashima was a Boy Scout during his childhood : this outdoor community practice brought him closer to nature from an early age ; this nature he likes and he will exalt all his life.
He begins his higher education at the University of Washington in forestry, but he goes on his graduation at the prestigious MIT, an Ivy League’s University, from which he graduated in architecture. At the end of his studies, he decides to travel : on the Grand Tour model, George Nakashima crates his own world tour to discover the most important centers of Modernity, including a trip through Europe ; he also visits Japan to discover his ascending origines, and this part affects deeply his mind. This tour impacts him on two levels : on the one hand he acquires in-depth knowledge of design and on the other hand he returns to the United States in 1941 completely disillusioned with architecture. So he made a decision : he will create furniture.
In 1942, because of his origins, he was parked in the Minidoka camp in Idaho : during this tragic event he meets the Issei carpenter Gentaro Hikogawa. This one teaches all his knowledge of wood techniques to George Nakashima.

At the end of the War, he decides to set up his workshop in New Hope, hotspot of the American Craft Studio, where Wharton Esherick and Phillip Lloyd Powell settled their creation centers. George Nakashima’s furniture is easily identifiable. He sums up his overall vision himself : « instead of a long-running and bloody battle with Nature to dominate her, we can walk in step with a tree to release the joy in her grains, to join with her to realize her potentials, to enhance the environments of man. » Rejecting categorically industrial process, each work is thought and shaped in his workshop : each piece is unique and handmade. His free design depends totally on the shapes of wood pieces he chooses : from the finest quality to the most apparent defect, George Nakashima is a true wood philosopher, highlighting every corner.
His creative process is unique : his production is a system of several bases and montages, « Conoid », « Minguren », « Frenchman’s Cove » or « Cross-Legged », declined according to the wood and their form, creating a consistent and recognizable system. His butterfly ties are a trademark and a metonymy of his work : they are finally not literally ties but some material ways to emphasize lines and asperities of the wood.

George Nakashima is a true virtuoso of wood and history of design is marked by his works : he is a source of inspiration and his work is fully collected all over the world •

CATALOG :

Conoid bench

GEORGE NAKASHIMA1965

A Grass Seated chair

GEORGE NAKASHIMA1956

Two Grass Seated chairs

GEORGE NAKASHIMA1956

Large lamp

GEORGE NAKASHIMA1974

Single Pedestal desk

GEORGE NAKASHIMA1958

Eleven Grass Seated chairs

GEORGE NAKASHIMA1956

Minguren I table

GEORGE NAKASHIMA1967

Exceptional headboard

GEORGE NAKASHIMA1958

Conoid table

GEORGE NAKASHIMA1963

Unique flying sideboard

GEORGE NAKASHIMA1964

Armchair with one free-arm

GEORGE NAKASHIMA1971