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George Nakashima Benches

American, 1905-1990

A master woodworker and M.I.T.-trained architect, George Nakashima was the leading light of the American Studio furniture movement. Along with Wharton Esherick, Sam Maloof and Wendell Castle, Nakashima was an artisan who disdained industrial methods and materials in favor of a personal, craft-based approach to the design. What sets Nakashima apart is the poetic style of his work, his reverence for wood and the belief that his furniture could evince — as he put it in the title of his 1981 memoir — The Soul of a Tree.

Born in Spokane, Washington, to Japanese immigrants, Nakashima traveled widely after college, working and studying in Paris, Japan and India, and at every stop he absorbed both modernist and traditional design influences. The turning point in Nakashima’s career development came in the United States in 1942, when he was placed in an internment camp for Asian-Americans in Idaho. There, Nakashima met a master woodcarver who tutored him in Japanese crafting techniques. A former employer won Nakashima’s release and brought him to bucolic New Hope, Pennsylvania, where Nakashima set up a studio and worked for the rest of his life.

Nakashima’s singular aesthetic is best captured in his custom-made tables and benches — pieces that show off the grain, burls and whorls in a plank of wood. He left the “free edge,” or natural contour, of the slab un-planed, and reinforced fissures in the wood with “butterfly” joints. Almost all Nakashima seating pieces have smooth, milled edges. Nakashima also contracted with large-scale manufacturers to produce carefully supervised editions of his designs. Knoll has offered his Straight chair — a modern take on the spindle-backed Windsor chair — since 1946; the now-defunct firm Widdicomb-Mueller issued the Shaker-inspired Origins collection in the 1950s.

Nelson Rockefeller in 1973 gave Nakashima his single largest commission: a 200-piece suite for his suburban New York estate. Today, Nakashima furniture is collected by both the staid and the fashionable: his work sits in the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian Institution, as well as in the homes of Steven Spielberg, Brad Pitt, Diane von Furstenberg and the late Steve Jobs.

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Creator: George Nakashima
Early George Nakashima Conoid Bench c. 1964
By George Nakashima
Located in Brooklyn, NY
George Nakashima Conoid Bench c. 1964. Beautifully figured crotch grain American black walnut with Hickory spindles and rosewood butterflies. Very unusual topographic shaped slab....
Category

Mid-20th Century American Mid-Century Modern George Nakashima Benches

Materials

Hickory, Rosewood, Walnut

George Nakashima, American Black Walnut & Hickory Spindle Bench, 1972
By George Nakashima, George Nakashima Woodworkers
Located in Wargrave, Berkshire
George Nakashima bench, created 1972, carved from a single slab of American black walnut with freeform front edge, and with turned hickory spin...
Category

1970s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage George Nakashima Benches

Materials

Hickory, Walnut

Conoid Bench by Mira Nakashima based on a design by George Nakashima, USA
By George Nakashima, Mira Nakashima
Located in Berlin, DE
Conoid bench in walnut, US 2021, by Mira Nakashima based on a George Nakashima design. The Bench is made in black walnut with hickory spindles.  
Category

21st Century and Contemporary American Mid-Century Modern George Nakashima Benches

Materials

Wood, Walnut

George Nakashima Studio Conoid Bench Signed Mira Nakashima, 1992
By George Nakashima, Mira Nakashima
Located in New York, NY
George Nakashima Studio Conoid bench signed Mira Nakashima 1992. The bench is walnut has hickory spindles and rosewood butterfly joints. This bench was commissioned for a private col...
Category

1990s American Mid-Century Modern George Nakashima Benches

Materials

Hickory, Walnut

George Nakashima Studio Conoid Bench
By George Nakashima, George Nakashima Studio
Located in Chicago, IL
George Nakashima Studio Conoid bench, 84" long. Strongly figured American black walnut with hickory spindles. Sold with a certificate of authenticity Measure: seat height 12.50".
Category

20th Century American Mid-Century Modern George Nakashima Benches

Materials

Hickory, Walnut

Conoid Bench by Mira Nakashima based on a design by George Nakashima, USA
By George Nakashima, Mira Nakashima
Located in Berlin, DE
Conoid bench in walnut, US 2021, by Mira Nakashima based on a George Nakashima design. The Bench is made in black walnut with hickory spindles and is s...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary American Mid-Century Modern George Nakashima Benches

Materials

Wood, Walnut

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George Nakashima Conoid Bench, 1965
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George Nakashima Bench, 1976
George Nakashima Bench, 1976
H 33.25 in W 72.5 in D 33 in
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By George Nakashima
Located in Los Angeles, CA
George Nakashima Conoid bench, New Hope, PA, 1983 (bench comes with copy of original purchase invoice).  
Category

1980s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage George Nakashima Benches

Materials

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By George Nakashima
Located in New York, NY
Another of George Nakashima's simple but brilliant early designs. Solid and sturdy this slab bench could function in a variety of settings including as a coffee table.
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George Nakashima Walnut Spindle Back Bench, USA, 1960s
By George Nakashima
Located in New York, NY
This bench has become an iconic example of George Nakashima's early work. A Classic simple design with shaker influences.
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George Nakashima Coffee Table, 1980
By George Nakashima
Located in Dallas, TX
Walnut coffee table or bench by George Nakashima, 1980.
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H 13.75 in W 72.5 in D 24.5 in
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Located in Dallas, TX
A large bench or coffee table in figurative walnut by George Nakashima, 1963. Sold with a copy of the original paperwork.
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George Nakashima benches for sale on 1stDibs.

George Nakashima benches are available for sale on 1stDibs. These distinctive items are frequently made of wood and are designed with extraordinary care. There are many options to choose from in our collection of George Nakashima benches, although brown editions of this piece are particularly popular. We have 4 vintage editions of these items in-stock, while there is 2 modern edition to choose from as well. Many of the original benches by George Nakashima were created in the mid-century modern style in north america during the 20th century. If you’re looking for additional options, many customers also consider benches by Charles and Ray Eames, Gerald McCabe, and Fredericia. Prices for George Nakashima benches can differ depending upon size, time period and other attributes — on 1stDibs, these items begin at $34,000 and can go as high as $85,000, while a piece like these, on average, fetch $52,506.
Questions About George Nakashima Benches
  • 1stDibs ExpertMarch 22, 2022
    George Nakashima is perhaps best known for developing the butterfly joint. This construction method involves connecting pieces with a third piece of wood shaped like a butterfly. The joint forms a strong, sturdy connection and stabilizes pieces to fight the effects of wood expansion. On 1stDibs, shop a range of George Nakashima furniture.
  • 1stDibs ExpertMarch 22, 2022
    No, George Nakashima didn’t usually sign the majority of his works. Instead, he normally added the name of the client to the timber selected to start the project. The writing usually appears in simple black marker. ​​On 1stDibs, find a variety of George Nakashima furniture.
  • 1stDibs ExpertMarch 22, 2022
    To identify George Nakashima furniture, start by looking for the name of the original client written in black marker. He usually wrote the name on the underside of a piece of furniture. Order cards and shop drawings can also help authenticate his work. On 1stDibs, find a selection of expertly vetted George Nakashima furniture.
  • 1stDibs ExpertMarch 22, 2022
    To address wood expansion, George Nakashima pioneered the butterfly joint. This technique uses a butterfly-shaped piece of wood as an anchor. When wood expands, the butterfly joint prevents the pieces from splitting apart. Butterfly joints are strong and increase the overall durability of his wood furniture. On 1stDibs, find a collection of George Nakashima.
  • 1stDibs ExpertMarch 22, 2022
    Which chair is best for a George Nakashima Origins for Widdicomb desk is largely a matter of preference. George Nakashima chairs with Shaker-inspired spindle backs like the Mira and Conoid tend to complement the lines of the desks in the collection. However, you can mix and match styles to create an eclectic look. On 1stDibs, shop a collection of George Nakashima desks and chairs.

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