Last fall we visited the Nakashima Houses in New Hope, Pennsylvania to learn more about the life and work of the restless Japanese designer. A founding father of the American Craft Movement, George Nakashima was a furniture designer and woodworker who played an important role in the development of 20th century furniture design. From undergoing Japanese Internment in Idahao during World War II to working in Pondicherry, India under architect Antonin Raymond, his deep respect for traditional Japanese carpentry turned him into one of the most important voices of modern furniture design.
Today, Nakashima is most known for his free-edge pieces- large-scale wooden tables with smooth surfaces and unfinished natural edges. Fascinated with the natural formation of trees, his design philosophy was grounded in the moments of organic creation found within nature.
[It's] the same process that nature uses in the creation of a tree - with one addition, the aspiration of man to produce the wonder and beauty of his potentialities - no "statements," no "pillars of design," no personal expression, no frivolity, but an outlook both severe and spontaneous.
New Life for the Tree, George Nakashima Woodworker
This vision continues to be carried out by his daughter, designer Mira Nakashima, who oversees the workshop and commissions. Standing secluded in the woods of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, the Nakashima Houses is a group of fourteen buildings that contains studios, a wood shop, an office and residential houses where the Nakashima family still lives and works to this day.
The Nakashima houses host open houses on Saturday afternoons between 1:00pm and 4:30pm. You can see examples of past and current work in self-guided tours of the showroom and the Conoid Studio.
WORDS BY MAGALI ROMAN
PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRIS SETTY