Making wood furniture is giving a new life for tree / George Nakashima
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.
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.
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”.
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 “
Milk House Table, one of the earliest sample of table design made in about 1944
Concordia Chair made of English walnut tree reminds me Gaudi’ s chair but in much minimal form
This iconic Conoid chair has only two legs and the studio was named after these chairs
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
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
A scene from the woodworkers studio
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 while working on his studio. I can see he was fully concentrated to his work and had keen eye for detail from this photo
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.
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