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April 18, 2013

GEORGE NAKASHIMA-WHO?

Filed under: george nakashimi — Tags: — jherzlinger @ 8:16 am

Whenever I think about Noguci’s work, I think about Nakashimia’s work.  This must be for the reason that their work with organic designs in wood are so stunning to me.  And the time frame and the history of both their

lives regarding the history of the United States is fascinating.


Nakashima (1905-1990) was born in Spokane, Washington, and grew up in the forests of the Olympic Peninsula. He attended the University of Washington,

where he initially studied forestry before switching to architecture.

After earning his master’s degree in architecture at MIT in 1930, Nakashima went to work for modern architect Antonin Raymond in Tokyo. Under Raymond,

Nakashima spent three years supervising the construction of the

first reinforced concrete building in Pondicherry, India. When war broke out, Nakashima returned via Tokyo to the United States. Shortly after his marriage to Marion

and the birth of his daughter, Mira, the family was interned at the camps in

Minidoka, Idaho. It was there that Nakashima met Gentaro Hikogawa, a man trained in traditional Japanese carpentry. Under his tutelage,

Nakashima learned to master traditional Japanese hand tools and joinery techniques.

“Work for him was a spiritual calling, a linking of his strength to a transcendental force, a surrender to the divine, a form of prayer,” says Mira of her father’s approach to woodworking.

In 1946, Nakashima agreed to have a few of his designs – including the Straight Back Chair – marketed by Knoll, a manufacturer of innovative modern furniture that was founded in New York three years earlier. In order to

accommodate growing demand, Nakashima worked with the Knoll product development team to manufacture his furniture at an off-site Knoll facility.

The relationship between Nakashima and Knoll ended in 1954. Then in 2008, Knoll, in collaboration with Mira Nakashima-Yarnall, reintroduced the Nakashima Straight Back Chair and Splay-Leg Table to its product line.

In order to get the chair and table ready once again for large-scale production, Knoll’s product engineers had the pieces digitally scanned and translated into 3D modeling and architectural programs. Mira worked closely

with the Knoll design team to ensure the integrity and quality of the final product compared to the designer’s original. Today, the Knoll versions of the Straight Back Chair and Splay-Leg Table are manufactured in upstate New York.

The artist’s original version of the Straight Back Chair is still handcrafted at George Nakashima Woodworker’s studio using air-dried walnut, hand-shaved hickory spindles and a hand-rubbed oil finish.

ENJOY!

LOVE,

JAMIE

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