George Nakashima - Design New York Tuesday, December 11, 2012 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Margaret and William Hahn, Annapolis, Maryland

  • Literature

    George Nakashima, The Soul of a Tree, A Woodworker’s Reflections, Tokyo, 1981, p. 151 for a drawing
    Derek E. Ostergard, George Nakashima, Full Circle, exh. cat., American Craft Museum, New York, 1989, p. 157 for a similar example
    Steven Beyer, George Nakashima and the Modernist Moment, exh. cat., James A. Michener Museum, Doylestown, 2001, p. 35 for a similar example
    Mira Nakashima, Nature, Form & Spirit: The Life and Legacy of George Nakashima, New York, 2003, p. 173, 176 for similar examples
    Todd Merrill and Julie V. Iovine, Modern Americana: Studio Furniture from High Craft to High Glam, New York, 2008, p. 132 for a similar example

  • Catalogue Essay

    George Nakashima’s ‘Conoid’ line of furniture was introduced in 1961 and named after the ‘Conoid’ studio at Nakashima’s workshop in NewHope, Pennsylvania. The studio’s curved vault and open space inspired a need for more exibility and expansion in Nakashima’s own designs. In the ‘Conoid Bench with Back’, Nakashima frees himself from his previous bench designs and their Windsor predecessors by providing a lower seat and an overhanging portion of a single wide slab to act as an integrated end table. Each bench is uniquely designed around the shape and graining of a single slab. The placement of the hickory spindles, different for each bench, follows neither the line of the traditional Windsor crest rail, nor that of the free-edge walnut slab, and exhibits Nakashima’s extraordinary sensibility for proportion.

  • 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.

    View More Works


‘Conoid Bench with Back’

American black walnut, hickory, two East Indian rosewood butterfly keys.
29 3/4 x 84 x 42 in (75.6 x 213.4 x 106.7 cm)
Together with a copy of the original order card from the George Nakashima studio.

$30,000 - 40,000 


12 December 2012
New York