George Nakashima  (American, 1905-1990) 

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George Nakashima (American, May 24, 1905–June 15, 1990) was a woodworker, furniture maker, and architect. He was born in Spokane, WA. He earned a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Washington in 1929 and a Master of Architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1931.

After studying, Nakashima traveled overseas to explore the world and study architectural styles on his own, spending time in places such as Paris, France, and Pondicherry, India. One of his early mentors was Antonin Raymond (Czech, 1888–1976), an architect he met in Japan and worked with while studying Japanese architecture. In 1940, Nakashima returned to the United States with his American-born wife, Marion Okajima. The couple opened a Seattle furniture workshop, but it was closed when they reported for interment in a Japanese-American relocation camp in Hunt, ID. At the camp, Nakashima met a Japanese carpenter named Gentauro Hikogawa, who taught him the craft of making traditional Japanese furniture. In 1943, Raymond sponsored Nakashima’s release from the relocation camp.

Upon his release, Nakashima moved to New Hope, PA, and reopened his furniture workshop and studio. Starting with just Nakashima, the studio grew to employ many fine craftsmen. It still operates today under the direction of his daughter, Mira Nakashima-Yarnall. In 1946, the artist designed a series for Knoll, a furniture company. Throughout his career, Nakashima was commissioned to make furniture for Nelson A. Rockefeller, Columbia University, and Kyoto''''s Church of Christ the King. In 1984, the Nakashima Foundation for Peace was started. Located in New Hope, PA, this foundation was based on Nakashima’s inspiration to create Altars of Peace for every continent. The first Altar of Peace was dedicated in 1986 and is located in New York, NY. Other Altars of Peace have since been dedicated in Moscow, Russia, and Auroville, India. Examples of his furniture are displayed at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Metropolitan Museum in New York City, the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. In addition to his many works, Nakashima wrote The Soul of a Tree (1981), a book about spirituality and woodcraft. He received the Order of the Sacred Treasure, an award in recognition of the cultural value of his work, from the Emperor of Japan in 1983. Nakashima died on June 15, 1990.

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George Nakashima, Walnut Spindle Back Bench

 

George Nakashima
Walnut Spindle Back Bench
circa 1950

Lofty
George Nakashima, Walnut Hanging Cabinet

 

George Nakashima
Walnut Hanging Cabinet
1972

Hemisphere
George Nakashima, Walnut bench

 

George Nakashima
Walnut bench
1973

Hemisphere
Past auction results (2705)  View All
George Nakashima, Important wall-mounted cabinet

 

George Nakashima
Important wall-mounted cabinet, 1967
American black walnut, pandanus cloth

 

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George Nakashima, Coffee table

 

George Nakashima
Coffee table, 1965
American black walnut, rosewood

 

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George Nakashima, Mira chairs (set of 6)

 

George Nakashima
Mira chairs (set of 6), 1965
American black walnut, stained hickory

 

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