George Nakashima (USA, 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 Stephen Spielberg, Brad Pitt, Diane von Furstenberg and the late Steve Jobs.

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George Nakashima Dining Table with Trestle Base

By George Nakashima
George Nakashima Dining Table with Trestle Base
George Nakashima
20th Century Mid-Century Modern Tables
This vintage walnut dining table by George Nakashima features free-flowing live-edge design complete with iconic bowtie inlay. This trestle dining table is constructed from quality midc...
George Nakashima Walnut Side or Lamp Table for Widdicomb's Origins Collection

By George Nakashima
George Nakashima Walnut Side or Lamp Table for Wid...
George Nakashima
Mid-20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Tables
A round Carpathian exotic wood side or lamp table in an oil finish with four tapered and bevelled legs and stretchers designed by George Nakashima. This table comes from Nakashima's onl...
George Nakashima "Wepman" Side Tables

By George Nakashima
George Nakashima "Wepman" Side Tables
George Nakashima
20th Century Tables
George Nakashima "Wepman" side tables. A perfect pair. Provenance accompanies.
George Nakashima Sundra Tables

By George Nakashima
George Nakashima Sundra Tables
George Nakashima
Vintage 1950s American Tables
Walnut
George Nakashima Sundra tables manufactured by Widdicomb. Walnut and laurel. Smaller table is 18" H x 12 1/4" x 17 1/2" W.
20th Century George Nakashima Dining Table

By George Nakashima
20th Century George Nakashima Dining Table
George Nakashima
Vintage 1950s American Tables
Walnut
Free edge walnut dining table custom-made by George Nakashima. Top comprised of two walnut boards with two free edges and three butterfly keys. Four turned legs with two stretchers. Mad...
George Nakashima English Oak Burl and Laurel Minguren II Table, 1977
On Hold
George Nakashima English Oak Burl and Laurel Mingu...
George Nakashima
Vintage 1970s American Tables
Oak
This table is made from a remarkable piece of oak burl with amazing details. It has good height for variety of settings.
George Nakashima Occasional Table

By George Nakashima
George Nakashima Occasional Table
George Nakashima
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Tables
A nice example of George Nakashima occasional table. Provenance accompanies.
Studio Dining Table by George Nakashima

By George Nakashima
Studio Dining Table by George Nakashima
George Nakashima
Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Tables
Walnut
Dining table by George Nakashima. Designed 1951 American Black Walnut Studio Table: 29" x 60" (88" including leaves) x 36" Comprised of a dining table and two leaves. Literature: Nakash...
George Nakashima Side Table

By George Nakashima
George Nakashima Side Table
George Nakashima
20th Century American Tables
Walnut
A George Nakashima oversized walnut free edge table,client name on underside of the table(planert)
Dining Table by George Nakashima

By George Nakashima
Dining Table by George Nakashima
George Nakashima
20th Century American Tables
A beautiful rectangular Frenchman's Cove Base Dining Table. This table was made in 1962. It is in beautiful original condition. The top has a nice selection of walnut boards having fou...