George was born in Spokane, Washington in 1905. He earned a Bachelor of Architecture in 1929 from the University of Washington. In 1931, he earned a master’s degree in Architecture from MIT. After attaining his degrees, he traveled the world. He worked as an architect in Japan and India. He made his first furniture in 1937, while working in India.
George returned to America in 1937 and taught furniture and woodworking in Seattle. He was forcibly interned with other Japanese Americans in 1942. There, he met Gentaro. Gentaro was a master carpenter trained in the use of traditional Japanese hand tools and joinery techniques.
George became famous for his use of large wood slabs with polished surfaces and unfinished edges. He often would join multiple slabs with butterfly joints. He valued simplicity in design and had a deep respect for the material he worked with.
Nelson Rockefeller in 1973 gave Nakashima his single largest commission: a 200-piece suite for his suburban New York estate. Today, Nakashima furniture is collected by both the staid and the fashionable: his work sits in the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian Institution, as well as in the homes of Stephen Spielberg, Brad Pitt, Diane von Furstenberg and the late Steve Jobs.
Persian Walnut and Rosewood Conoid Dining Table, 1971-2. It features seven rosewood butterflies and is accompanied by twelve rosewood conoid chairs.
Unique Print Stand, 1981. It features an English walnut board, 37" wide x 20" deep x 54" high (adjustable). This is a unique design employing a dramatic piece of English walnut. This custom design, based on Nakashima's music stands, was made for the clients in order to have a rotating display of Japanese woodcuts. It has adjustable height, so it can also be used as a music stand.
Custom "Sanso" dining table. Custom "Conoid” lounge chairs, 1987. The table consist of a single-board Claro walnut, American black walnut and seven East Indian rosewood butterfly keys. The chairs are single-board American black walnut, hickory. The table is 25.25 H × 102 L × 64 W inches. The chair is 33.25 H x 22 W x 25 D inches. The underside of table is signed in black marker with “George Nakashima," date and customer's name. The underside of each chair is signed in black marker with “George Nakashima" and date. The set is accompanied with original drawings of the table and correspondence between George Nakashima and the original owner. There are eleven pieces in total, all custom to this complete set (special wood selections, wood size selection, and single board offerings on all elements). "Altar of Peace" works are referenced in the correspondence between George Nakashima and his client when developing this work.
The Arlyn table has its own unique story. Nakashima created the piece in 1988 for his Princeton, New Jersey patrons, Dr. Arthur Krosnick and his wife Evelyn. “Arlyn” is an acronym formed from the couples’ first names. The nine-foot-wide table is made from a cross-section of burled redwood originally from the San Francisco Bay Area’s Muir Woods. The tabletop features ten holes, three butterfly joints, and an intricate ragged edge that sits atop two intersecting black walnut slabs. It is one of only two Nakashima pieces that escaped the horrific fire that destroyed the Krosnick home on May 23, 1989 taking with it more than 100 pieces of Nakashima’s work. A workman’s defective blowtorch had ignited a blaze in the basement that, within a few hours, burned the entire house and its contents to the ground.
Two Red Roses
Just three weeks prior, on May 8, a major retrospective exhibition entitled “George Nakashima: Full Circle” opened at the American Craft Museum (now the Museum of Arts and Design) in New York City. The Krosnicks had agreed to loan the Arlyn table, along with a Nakashima picture frame, to the Museum for the exhibition. These two pieces were the only “survivors” of the fire. The Krosnicks vowed to rebuild their beloved home, a project that would greatly depend on Nakashima. He was quoted in The New York Times, “It is a great loss — for them and for us. Some of the pieces can be replaced, but many cannot. They are precise pieces — one of a kind…” The day after the fire, on his 84th birthday, he said these words to Arthur and Evelyn Krosnick, “We do not know why this happened, but we will rebuild your lives.”
Two Red Roses
Lounge Chair with Myrtle Burl Arm, designed 1962, made in 1989. It is American black walnut, hickory and Oregon myrtle. Its dimensions are H 33 3/8 x W 28 x D 32 inches.
Michener Art Museum
The Greenrock side table was created in New Hope, PA. It is walnut, 21"h x 26"d x 22"w and signed. It was part of the Birkhill collection. The entire structure consists of its original finish. Top has some minor drink rings or water spots. Overall, it is in very good original condition.
The Conoid Bench American is black walnut and hickory. It was created in New Hope, Pennsylvania and was comploeted in 1973. This bench is a curved crest rail over twenty-two hickory spindles, a plank seat with two rosewood butterfly joints. The grain and shape are distinctive. The dimensions are ht. 29, lg. 90, dp. 30 in.
Note: George Nakashima had this bench in his showroom and when asked if it could be purchased he refused, but agreed after some thought. The estimated price at the time was $30,000-40,000. Recently it sold for: $79,950
Skinner Auctioneers and Appraisers
This Walnut Cabinet was built in the 1970s. It is from the Period: 1970-1979. The cabinet is in excellent condition. The dimensions are H 26 in. x W 72 in. x D 12 in. H 66.04 cm x W 182.88 cm x D 30.48 cm. The seller location is New York, NY.
This Trestle Dining Table (1957) is valued at $180,000. It is an early example of George's work. It consists of bookmatched solid American Black Walnut boards joined together with Rosewood Butterflies.
The top is not screwed in like most, it fits precisely to the base and is secured with pegs (shown in Introduction image). The horizontal rail connects to the uprights by passing thru verticals uprights and is secured with a wooden pin. This type of construction is very consistent with traditional Japanese techniques. It is in excellent condition and its dimensions are 36" H x 103" W x 27" D.