George Nakashima

George Katsutoshi Nakashima was born in 1905 in Spokane, WA. Trained as an architect at the University of Washington and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he first began designing furniture as an aspect of architectural ventures in India, Japan, and Seattle, WA. Now an internationally renowned furniture designer and woodworker, Nakashima is recognized as one of America's most eminent designer crafsmen. Nakashima's work expresses a worldview that is based on a unique set of circumstances, including his formal education in architecture, his exposure to European Modernism, Eastern religious philosophy and traditional Japanese craft traditions.  As a self-proclaimed "woodworker," Nakashima became an important voice for the artist craftsmen, helping to create a new paradigm for studio furniture production in the postwar period. 

Believing in the integration of a personal and professional life, George Nakashima began his business this way and continued to operate on this principle throughout his career. He developed an international reputation and received many important commissions for buildings and furnishings for churches, corporate headquarters and private homes. A master craftsman, he created a distinctive style of object that gave “a second life” to the trees he loved so much. Nakashima received numerous awards, including the Gold Craftsmanship Medal of the American Institute of Architects (1952).

At any given time, today's Nakashima Workshop employs a dozen or so workers, including family members. Nakashima’s daughter, Mira, who received degrees in architecture from Harvard University and Waseda University in Tokyo, worked as his assistant designer for 20 years and took over the task of producing backlogged orders after his death in 1990. Since then, as head of the Nakashima Studio, she has experimented with new forms, collaborating with other architects and developing new work such as the “Keisho” group.

Selected Bibliography:

"Soul of a Tree" by George Nakashima

"George Nakashima: Full Circle" by Derek Ostergard

"Nature Form & Spirit: The Life & Legacy of George Nakashima" by Mira Nakashima

"George Nakashima And The Modernist Moment" edited by Matilda McQuaid 

"Esherick, Maloof, and Nakashima: Homes of the Master Wood Artisans" by Tina Skinner