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George Nakashima Coffee Table, 1958

$11,360.39

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George Nakashima walnut and oak coffee table by Widdicomb Grand Rapids, USA, 1958 manufacture 11/58 model 217. Rare George Nakashima walnut and oak coffee table manufactured by Widdicomb Furniture Company, USA. Branded “George Nakashima” and “NAKASHIMA” twice, with the manufacturer’s label, the rectangular inset top over two drawers with brass drawer pulls, raised by two tapered legs and a shaped leg to underside of drawers, a magnificent rare piece that will only increase in value in years to come. Provenance: Phillips, New York, lot 244, 2nd December 2006 Bio: George Nakashima American (1905-1990) Working out of his compound in rural New Hope, Pennsylvania, George Nakashima produced some of the most original and influential furniture designs of the post-war era. Nakashima aimed to give trees a second life, choosing solid wood over veneers and designing his furniture to highlight the inherent beauty of the wood, such as the form and grain. To this end, his tables often feature freeform edges, natural fissures and knot holes. Nakashima was an MIT-trained architect and traveled widely in his youth, gaining exposure to modernist design the world over. The signature style he developed was the distillation of extraordinary, diverse experiences, which led to the establishment of his furniture-making business in 1946. In particular, his practice of Integral Yoga, which he studied while working under the architect Antonin Raymond on the construction of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry, India, had a lasting impact on his philosophy as a designer. After returning to the U.S. in 1940, Nakashima's family was interned in an American concentration camp, a horrible ordeal that nevertheless introduced him to traditional Japanese joinery by way of a Nisei woodworker he met in the camp. He incorporated these techniques and also drew on American vernacular forms, such as the Windsor chair. These diverse influences have resulted in immense crossover appeal in the world of 20th century design collecting. Condition: In very good vintage condition with no weakness to the joints, no past or present woodworm, all drawers are clean with no odours or smells, the drawers open and close with ease. Dimensions: Height 20.5” inches / 52cm Width 54” inches / 137cm Depth 18” inches / 45cm.

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    Ships From: Longdon, United Kingdom
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About the Designer

George Nakashima

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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Located in Longdon, United Kingdom
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