Friday, April 18, 2014

George Nakashima
 While visiting a friend I noticed a small unique table it was beautifully constructed out of a natural burled  wood.  I commented on the piece and she proudly announced that it was by Nakashima.  I admit that I had only heard the name but never the less I was duly impressed, both by the obvious pride that she had and more so by the piece itself.

Nakashima was born in 1905.  He studied Architecture at the University of Washington, where he received a bachelor degree.  From there he went to MIT where he earned a Masters Degree in Architecture.  After finishing his degree he travel via a tramp steamer, spending about a year in France, North African and landing in Japan.  There in found work with, Antonin Raymond, who had worked with Frank Lloyd Wright on the Imperial Hotel.  While there he was able to travel through out Japan studying the Architecture and design.  His first experience in furniture design came when he working with Raymond on a project in India designing some of the furniture.

He returned to states in 1940 and started to make furniture and teach woodworking.  When war broke out people of Japanese descent were intern into A Camp in Hunt Idaho, where he met Gentaro Hikogawa, who was trained in the tradition of Japanese woodwork and carpentry.  He learned patience and the use of traditional hand tools to strive for perfection in all his work.

George Nakashima, Arlyn Table, 1988, redwood, American black walnut, East Indian laurel, madrone burl. Est. $300,000 – $500,000; sold for $822,400. Photo: Courtesy of Sotheby

In 1943 Antonin Raymond came to his aid and arranged for his release from the camp.  Nakashima went to Raymond's farm in New Hope, PA, here he explored the natural qualities of wood exploiting the natural knots, burls and grain of the wood itself.  He is know for his large polished slab wood tables with large butterfly joints and natural edges.

Nakashima Table with butterfly joints


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