George Nakashima - Design New York Tuesday, December 5, 2023 | Phillips
  • Literature

    Widdicomb, manufacturer's catalog, Grand Rapids, 1958, n.p.
    “The Glorification of Wood,” House Beautiful, October 1958, p. 174

  • 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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Wall-mounted sideboard, model no. 249, from the "Origins" collection

Walnut-veneered wood, walnut, burl elm-veneered wood.
16 x 80 x 17 1/8 in. (40.6 x 203.2 x 43.5 cm)
Manufactured by Widdicomb-Mueller Corporation, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Reverse ink-stamped 249 6/59, with manufacturer's paper label printed WIDDICOMB/Grand Rapids, and with metal label impressed TRUE/GRAND/RAPIDS/CABINET MAKING/Certified/TRADEMARK.

$8,000 - 12,000 

Sold for $16,510

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Benjamin Green
Associate Specialist
Associate Head of Sale
+1 917 207 9090


New York Auction 5 December 2023