George Nakashima - Design New York Tuesday, June 8, 2010 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Margaret and William Hahn, Annapolis, Maryland

  • Literature

    Lee Nordness, Objects: USA, New York, 1970, p. 263; George Nakashima, The Soul of a Tree, A Woodworker's Reflections, Tokyo, 1981, p. 151 for a drawing and pp. 164-165; Derek E. Ostergard, George Nakashima, Full Circle, exh. cat., American Craft Museum, New York, 1989, p. 157, fig. 28; Mira Nakashima, Nature, Form & Spirit: The Life and Legacy of George Nakashima, New York, 2003, pp. 173 and 176

  • Catalogue Essay

    The present "Conoid" bench is listed on a customer order card, dated November 17, 1975, on file at the George Nakashima Studio in New Hope, Pennsylvania. The bench was among a series of works commissioned by Mr. and Mrs. Hahn and shipped to Annapolis, Maryland on September 22, 1976.
    Phillips de Pury & Company would like to thank Mira Nakashima, Soomi Amagasu and the George Nakashima Studio for their assistance in cataloging this lot.

  • Artist Biography

    George Nakashima

    American • 1905 - 1990

    Working out of his compound in rural New Hope, Pennsylvania, George Nakashima produced some of the most original and influential furniture designs of the post-war era. Nakashima aimed to give trees a second life, choosing solid wood over veneers and designing his furniture to highlight the inherent beauty of the wood, such as the form and grain. To this end, his tables often feature freeform edges, natural fissures and knot holes. Nakashima was an MIT-trained architect and traveled widely in his youth, gaining exposure to modernist design the world over.

    The signature style he developed was the distillation of extraordinary, diverse experiences, which led to the establishment of his furniture-making business in 1946. In particular, his practice of Integral Yoga, which he studied while working under the architect Antonin Raymond on the construction of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry, India, had a lasting impact on his philosophy as a designer.

    After returning to the U.S. in 1940, Nakashima's family was interned in an American concentration camp, a horrible ordeal that nevertheless introduced him to traditional Japanese joinery by way of a Nisei woodworker he met in the camp. He incorporated these techniques and also drew on American vernacular forms, such as the Windsor chair. These diverse influences have resulted in immense crossover appeal in the world of twentieth-century design collecting.

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Free-edge “Conoid” bench

Walnut, hickory, two rosewood butterfly keys. Together with a copy of the original order card from the George Nakashima studio.
29 3/4 x 85 x 40 1/2 in. (75.6 x 215.9 x 102.9 cm.)

$20,000 - 30,000 


9 June 2010
New York