George Nakashima - Design New York Wednesday, May 25, 2011 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Full Circle Gallery, Alexandria, VA; Anne Henderson, Washington, DC

  • Literature

    George Nakashima, The Soul of a Tree, A Woodworker’s Reflections, Tokyo, 1981, p. 139 for a drawing of the asa-no-ha joinery, pp. 162 and 172; Derek E. Ostergard, George Nakashima, Full Circle, exh. cat., American Craft Museum, New York, 1989, p. 169, fig. 35; Mira Nakashima, Nature, Form & Spirit: The Life and Legacy of George Nakashima, New York, 2003, p. 206 for a drawing and p. 207

  • Catalogue Essay

    The “Odakyu” cabinet, designed in 1976 for the Odakyu HALC Department Store in Tokyo, was added to New Hope studio production in 1983. George Nakashima, maintaining a focus on traditional Japanese craft, decorated the cabinet doors with asa-no-ha, an abstraction of overlapping hemp leaves traditionally used in shoji screens from the mid-19th century. The pattern, a symbol of rapid growth and good fortune, is formed with extremely complex lap joints uniting twelve wood members at its center.

  • 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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“Odakyu” cabinet

Walnut, cedar, asa-no-ha grasscloth doors.
27 1/2 x 57 3/4 x 18 in. (69.9 x 146.7 x 45.7 cm.)
Interior signed in black marker with “George Nakashima/Dec 1986.” Together with a copy of the original order card from George Nakashima Studio.

$30,000 - 40,000 

Sold for $104,500


25 May 2011
New York