Making wood furniture is giving a new life for tree / George Nakashima

Nakashima woodwork projects and spaces

When I came a cross the philosophy behind the Nakashima woodworker’ s furnitures, I was astonished by the idea  of nature/ design collocation and “finding a new life for tree”.  This  theme  of being in fine tune with the  nature at the creation process, embody beautiful woodworks since mid of 20ths up until today by the leading role of  Japanese Designer George Nakashima ( 1905-1990), the founder of the studio.

George N. explained his approach to his work with below statement;

“…My relationship to furniture and construction is basically my dialogue with a tree, with a complete and psychic empathy … Since design need not be a personal expression, the function of construction becomes primary.”

The attention to detail, skill, craftmanship, perfection  are all common characteristics of Japanese artists and designers. I saw exactly the same approach while I was sharing my atelier with my Japanese friend at Savannah College of Art and Design. It is full concentration and dedication to work, designing/creating process  are beyond the worries of personalization rather respect what mind translates into outcome… This  approach to work must be genetic.

George Nakashima - Long Chair

Long Chair by Nakashima an antique piece from mid of century. American cherry frame and black canvas web for seating

Based in that great philosophy Nakashima created and developed beautiful furnitures out of trees all his life working with his  family in his studio in Pennsylvania. Today, the studio is being conducted by his daughter Mira Nakashima. While George Nakashima’ s furnitures from the 20th century has an artistic antique furniture value today, today the studio is producing new unique furnitures by a group of professional and talented people for new projects. The best part is;  it is possible to visit the land where the studio is located. So if one day you go to PA, it would be great to visit this artistic wood furniture paradise.

nakashima woodworkers landNakashima Land where the studio  is located in PA, USA

George Nakashima takes a closer look at the grain

In Nakashima studio, everything is developed around the tree.In the above photo  George Nakashima was working on the trunk and studying the grains closely. It is almost like reading the history and past experiences of the tree. How it was grow, the weather the tree faced to in all those years, wet and dry seasons. George learned all these while he was growing up in the forest and building a close relationship with the trees.

He stated “the best trees for furniture usually come from the woods and have long, straight trunks, sometimes stretching thirty feet from the base to first branch”.

Nakashima woodworkers inventory

While Nakashima woodworkers studio explains about their inventory says “Over the years we have built up a collection of extraordinary lumber; in a sense priceless, as many items are now unobtainable. From this material, we start the making of useful objects to fulfill man’s life – again we hope, in a manner akin to the disciplined way by which nature produces a tree… or a flower ”

Connoid Coffee Low table frontThe wide low table was designed to celebrate the compilation of the Canoid Studio in 1960

baikal Table by George NakashimaThe detail of Baikal Table, Built for the Michael Smith Gallery show to honor a magnificent Redwood burl and a magnificent lake.

George Nakashima conoid deskConoid Desk with one side drawers and one side crossed leg

Milk House table by George Nakashima

Milk House Table, one of the earliest  sample of  table design made in about 1944

Connoid end Table - Japanese Designdelicately balanced based Canoid end table

Concordia chair by George Nakashima

Concordia Chair made of English walnut  tree reminds me Gaudi’ s chair but in much minimal form

Greenrock Ottomans - stools Japanese furniture designI simply fell in love with these gorgeous Greenrock  ottomans which were first  made  for Governor Rockefeller’s Japanese House in Pocantico Hills in 1975

George Nakashima Conoid bench

George Nakashima-conoid chairs with arms and without arms

This iconic Conoid chair has only two legs and the studio was named after these chairs

Japanese wood craft' s perfection

Ergonomic conoid chair seatThe detail of ergonomic seating part of the Conoid chair. The balance, quality of construction  shows the chair was designed in architectural quality

George Nakashima Grass seated chair

One of the earliest pieces designed by Nakashima was first made in the 1940′ s and it is till production today. It is honest, simple and beautiful furniture piece

Simon wooden coffee table detailThe small wood combining pieces in different shapes add simple elegant and playful detail to Nakashima’ s furnitures

wall hanging headboard a cut from the treeWhich headboard could be nicer than this masterpiece of nature?

amorphic texture of lumberThe texture of a cut wood piece used on top of the table is mind blowing by its interesting details

House and Nature

This wood frame studio building in Nakashima woodworkers land is used as showroom today. It has arrays of publicity from past to present, books, catalogs, items for sale

woodworkers studio

A scene from the woodworkers studio

Mira Nakashima

Today George’ s daughter Mira Nakashima is continuing his heritage in a collection named Keisho which means continues and succession. Through this line Mira creates wonderful work by his team using the same techniques which his father teached.

George Nakashima working

George Nakashima while working on his studio. I can see he was fully concentrated to his work and had keen eye for detail from this photo

tools for wood craftingskillful hands

George Nakashima was an architect himself and he dedicated his life to furnitures made of wonderful woods. He thought handling the tree and creating and crafting the furniture has similar disciplines with making a building but it was only in the small-scale. His passion, talent and vision was backed up by true education.

Large wooden table for peace by George Nakashima

Since all his life George Nakashima worked with love and peace finally he had a dream to symbolize the world peace by his wood tables.

They were called as alters of peace and were meant to sent 7 continents of the world symbolizing peace. Today his sacred tables are

placed in  Cathedral St. George the Divine, Russian Academy of Art in Moscow,  Unity Pavilion of the “City of Peace” Auroville in

India, and foundation is currently working on the fourth peace to send to South Africa to place at the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre for

the continent of Africa.

used sources: www.nakashimawoodworker.com

designmixer

Designer (Textile & Interior Design)

6 thoughts on “Making wood furniture is giving a new life for tree / George Nakashima

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