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George Nakashima Cabinet with Walnut and Pandanus Cloth


George Nakashima, triple sliding door cabinet, walnut, pandanus cloth, New Hope, PA, 1970 Cabinet with three sliding doors and several compartments behind each door, executed in walnut with traditional and archetypical dovetail Nakashima wood-joints. The credenza features thin solid walnut slats with pandanus cloth. The top of the credenza, with its iconic organic walnut plank ends at the corners of the credenza itself. The cabinet rests on one solid slab of walnut. The credenza has no decoration or non-functional elements but takes its aesthetics solely from the construction work and the use of the best quality walnut wood. George Nakashima (1905-1990) was a Japanese architect who was born in the United States. After having lived in Paris and Tokyo he moved back to the United States. He started studying forestry but after two years changed to architecture. Around 1946 Nakashima made a business agreement with Knoll International that ended in 1954. Nakashima was a very spiritual and philosophical designer and he felt bound by a sense of duty to his work. The basis of Nakashima's work was derived from his practice of Integral yoga. The primary goal of Nakashima's work was to live in harmony with nature rather than to destroy it for their own use. He worked from the shape of the tree instead of working towards a preset IDEA in his mind on what the piece should look like. He took inspiration from the Shakers and Le Corbusier. His approach was always that of an artist, calling on creative energies from deep within. He therefore believed that architecture and design had nothing to do with 'styles' but instead with honesty of expression, truth in materials and good proportion resulting in a 'Fine plainnes'. Besides yoga, it was also the aesthetic of the Japanese tea ceremony that had a profound influence on Nakashima's approach to life, architecture and design. Above all, Nakashima wanted to embody a message to all modern societies that we must constantly remember the eternal in all that we do. He often said of his own work that he gave trees a second life. His designs are known for their exquisite craftsmanship and are often 'signed' with dovetails and butterfly connections. Provenance: Copy of original order.


  • Condition
  • Wear
    Wear consistent with age and use.
  • Dimensions

    H 33.27 in. x W 84.06 in. x D 19.69 in.

    H 84.5 cm x W 213.5 cm x D 50 cm

  • Seller location
    Waalwijk, NL
  • Reference number

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About George Nakashima (Designer)

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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