George Nakashima (1905-1990) was an internationally acclaimed furniture maker known for his organic and spiritual approach. His much-loved book The Soul of a Tree outlined his personal philosophy, in which the natural qualities of timber – including their irregularities – were carried through into the design and execution of a finished form, offering a sense of deep connection to the earth.
Nakashima was born within a Japanese-American family in Spokane, Washington in 1905 and grew up in the forests of the Olympic Peninsula. He received a Bachelor's Degree in architecture at the University of Washington and a Master's from MIT in 1930, as well as the Prix Fontainebleau from L'Ecole Americaine des Beaux Arts in France in 1928. After spending some time in Paris, he traveled around the world and secured a job at the Antonin Raymond office in Tokyo which sent him to Pondicherry, India, where he was the onsite architect for the first reinforced concrete building in that country and became one of the first disciples of the yogi and philosopher Sri Aurobindo.
The Modernism Museum features work from Nakashima’s whole career, with notable examples including his Minguren tables (with tops made of free-form burls of figured wood), his iconic Conoid chairs, and breathtakingly large slab-topped tables with his signature dovetail keys.