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George Nakashima

George Nakashima

George Nakashima

Information

Birth date: May 24, 1905
Country of birth: United_States
Occupation: Woodworker
Spouse(s): Marion Okajima (m. 1939-1990
Date of death: June 15, 1990
Children: Mira Nakashima

 

Early Life

Nakashima was born in 1905 in Spokane, Washington, to Katsuharu and Suzu Nakashima. He enrolled in the University of Washington program in architecture, graduating with a Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch) about 1929. In 1931, after earning a master's degree in architecture from M.I.T.,Nakashima sold his car and purchased a round-the-world tramp steamship ticket. He spent a year in France living the life of a bohemian, and then went on to North Africa and eventually to Japan. While in Japan, Nakashima went to work for Antonin Raymond, an American architect who had collaborated with Frank Lloyd Wright on the Imperial Hotel. While working for Raymond, Nakashima toured Japan extensively, studying the subtleties of Japanese architecture and design. He also met Marion Okajima, who would become his wife.1

Later Life

While in Japan, Nakashima went to work for Antonin Raymond, an American architect who had collaborated with Frank Lloyd Wright on the Imperial Hotel. While working for Raymond, Nakashima toured Japan extensively, studying the subtleties of Japanese architecture and design. He also met Marion Okajima, who would become his wife.1

Career

In 1937, Raymond's company was commissioned to build a dormitory at an ashram in Puducherry, India for which Nakashima was the primary construction consultant. It was here that Nakashima made his first furniture.

In 1940 Nakashima returned to America, and began to make furniture and teach woodworking in Seattle. Like others of Japanese ancestry, he was interned during the Second World War and sent to Camp Minidoka in Hunt, Idaho, in March 1942. At the camp he met Gentaro (sometimes spelled Gentauro) Hikogawa, a man trained in traditional Japanese carpentry. Under his tutelage, Nakashima learned to master traditional Japanese hand tools and joinery techniques. Perhaps more significant, he began to approach woodworking with discipline and patience, striving for perfection in every stage of construction.

Nakashima's signature woodworking design was his large-scale tables made of large wood slabs with smooth tops but unfinished natural edges, consisting of multiple slabs connected with butterfly joints.1

Image Gallery

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Quotes

Each flitch, each board, each plank can have only one ideal use. The woodworker, applying a thousand skills, must find that ideal use and then shape the wood to realize its true potential.2

There must be a union between the spirit in wood and the spirit in man. The grain of the wood must relate closely to its function. The abutment of the edge of one board to an adjoining board can mean the success or failure of a piece. () Gradually a form evolves, much as nature produces the tree in the first place. The object created can live forever. The tree lives on in its new form. The object cannot follow a transitory “style”, here for a moment, discarded the next. Its appeal must be universal. Cordial and receptive, it should invite a meeting with man2

After a year of doing general farm work, it was quite clear to me that chickens and I were not compatible.2

Publications

Further Reading

External Links

George Nakashima's Legacy Website www.nakashimawoodworker.com

Interview with George Nakashima (Life Magazine)

Citations

1 Wikipedia contributors. "George Nakashima." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 3 Oct. 2017. Web.10 Oct. 2017
2 “TOP 6 QUOTES BY GEORGE NAKASHIMA.” A-Z Quotes, http://www.azquotes.com/author/28966-George_Nakashima. Accessed 10 Oct. 2017.

Bibliography


 

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