Mid Century Walnut George Nakashima Sundra Tiered Side Table for Widdicomb
About the Item
- Dimensions:Height: 21 in (53.34 cm)Width: 20 in (50.8 cm)Depth: 30 in (76.2 cm)
- Style:Mid-Century Modern (Of the Period)
- Materials and Techniques:
- Place of Origin:
- Date of Manufacture:1961
- Condition:Refinished. Wear consistent with age and use. Refinished and overall in great condition with minimal signs of a past life.
- Seller Location:Chino Hills, CA
- Reference Number:1stDibs: LU7628236030642
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.
Widdicomb Furniture Co.
Admirers of vintage mid-century modern furnishings likely recognize the Widdicomb Furniture Company name for the fruitful partnerships it forged with iconic designers such as Frank Lloyd Wright, T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings and Mario Buatta. But there is more to the Widdicomb story than the albeit quite covetable sofas and bedroom furniture it produced during the middle of the 20th century.
A wealth of pine and oak forests rendered Grand Rapids, Michigan, a logging center during the 1800s, and it eventually gained recognition for its furniture industry. The American city became a destination for furniture makers who hailed from across the United States and beyond. Furniture maker George Widdicomb emigrated from England to the United States in 1845, eventually setting up a cabinet shop in Syracuse, New York, before moving west to Grand Rapids. There, he opened a shop with his four sons, including John Widdicomb, whose name would help carry the family legacy into the 20th century.
The Widdicomb shop in Grand Rapids prospered, as the patriarch’s formal English training allowed him to produce pieces with superior craftsmanship compared to those of his competitors. Although the Civil War halted business and took the life of one of the Widdicomb brothers, the family’s survivors would start anew as Widdicomb Brothers and Richards, soon renamed the Widdicomb Furniture Company.
John Widdicomb, however, split from the family business in 1897 to create the John Widdicomb Company, where he would go on to focus on Louis XV- and French Provincial-style furnishings. Chairs made in these styles have distinct characteristics, such as floral motifs carved in the frames and gently angled backrests. John's company also remained a family affair: The founder’s son, Harry, assumed control of the company when his father died in 1910, while John's nephew Ralph Widdicombe — who retained the English spelling of his last name and joined the John Widdicomb Company at its start — designed every single piece of the offerings at his uncle's manufacturing outfit until he retired in 1951. Ralph was an internationally distinguished furniture designer whose modern mahogany bedroom suite won first prize at the Paris Exposition in 1900.
The original iteration of Widdicomb, which was helmed by John's older brother William while John ran his own brand, had shifted from making period revival styles of furniture, such as Georgian and Chippendale, to manufacturing modern pieces in the late 1920s. Today vintage Widdicomb seating, tables and other pieces produced during the postwar years are particularly sought after by collectors of mid-20th-century furniture.
In 1959, master woodworker George Nakashima created his Origins collection for Widdicomb when the firm merged with Mueller Furniture Corporation and was known, for around 10 years, as Widdicomb-Mueller. Origins, a revered Shaker-influenced group of nightstands, upholstered lounge chairs, dining-room tables and more, saw Nakashima working with woods like Carpathian elm and laurel in his Pennsylvania studio.
Eventually, the two Widdicomb companies would combine in 1970, operating under the name John Widdicomb Co.
In 2002, the business closed after more than a century of operations, and its assets were acquired by Stickley Furniture. Interestingly, it was not the first time Widdicomb and Stickley overlapped: In the final years of the 19th century, the companies opened a shared storehouse in London, while John Widdicomb and Albert Stickley would travel Europe together for the purposes of research.
- ShippingRetrieving quote...Ships From: Fallbrook, CA
- Return PolicyA return for this item may be initiated within 3 days of delivery.
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