George Nakashima

George Katsutoshi Nakashima was born in 1905 in Spokane, WA. Trained as an architect at the University of Washington and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he first began object-making ventures in India, Japan, and Seattle, WA. Through the sponsorship of Antonin Raymond, he was released from the internment camps in the Idaho desert and founded his workshop in Bucks County about 1945.

Believing in the integration of a personal and professional life, George Nakashima began his business as a one-man shop and continued to operate on this principle throughout his career. He developed an international reputation and received many important commissions for buildings and furnishings for churches, corporate headquarters and private homes. A master craftsman, he created a distinctive style of object that gave “a second life” to the trees he loved so much. Nakashima received numerous awards, including the Gold Craftsmanship Medal of the American Institute of Architects (1952).

At any given time, today's Nakashima Workshop employs a dozen or so workers, including family members. Nakashima’s daughter, Mira, who received degrees in architecture from Harvard University and Waseda University in Tokyo, worked as his assistant designer for 20 years and took over the task of producing backlogged orders after his death in 1990. Since then, as head of the Nakashima Studio, she has experimented with new forms, collaborating with other architects and developing new work such as the “Keisho” group.

Selected Bibliography:

"Soul of a Tree" by George Nakashima

"George Nakashima: Full Circle" by Derek Ostergard

"Nature Form & Spirit: The Life & Legacy of George Nakashima" by Mira Nakashima

"George Nakashima And The Modernist Moment" edited by Matilda McQuaid 

"Esherick, Maloof, and Nakashima: Homes of the Master Wood Artisans" by Tina Skinner