Portrait #1, Nakashima – The Soul of Tree

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Name George Nakashima (1905-1990)
Profession Woodworker
Focus Furnitures

Last week I went in Kagawa Prefecture, in Takamatsu and I went to George Nakashima Memorial Gallery. It was great to see his work and to discover his philosophy. I had also the chance to meet the current woodworkers and to visit the workshop.


George Nakashima is Japanese-American, born in Washington. He studied Architecture in Washington, got a Master from MIT and went at L’Ecole Americaine des Beaux Arts in Paris. He travelled a lot after his studies ; Europe, India, China, Japan. Then he started working as an Architect at the Antonin Raymond office in Tokyo for 2 years.

In 1940 he came back to America and open his first workshop in Seattle where he began woodfurniture and started teaching woodworking. During the Wolrd War II he is interned in a camp in Idaho because of its japanese origins where he will learn traditional japanese carpentery.

Through the sponsorship of his former employer Antonin Raymond, he was able to leave the internment camp and move to Pennsylvania, where he worked for the rest of his life and created his masterpieces.

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GEORGE NAKASHIMA, View from a Nakashima retrospective exhibition at the Mjölk Gallery in Toronto, Canada. The desk, the Captain’s chair and the table lamp all by George Nakashima, c.1960s. / Kitka
George Nakashima, writing arm chair.


George Nakashima Woodworker stools in the kitchen | archdigest.com


George Nakashima realised all its furnitures by himself and with the help of few assistants. He chose often pieces of wood traditionally rejected by other woodworkers because of their imperfections because to him those imperfections reflected true beauty.

”  The more a surface is used, the more resistant and beautiful it becomes. There is nothing quite as uninteresting as a shining surface that looks as if it has never been used.  “

Nakashima believed that once a tree was mature it was fair and moral to cut it down for man’s use, since otherwise it would soon decay. He believed that there is a spirit in trees. He wanted to create furnitures that would keep the spirit of the tree alive, giving to them a second life.

Each furniture is an art piece, created for a special space and a special function.

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