George Nakashima, native to Spokane Washington, attended M.I.T and graduated in 1930 with his Master in Architecture. Nakashima worked in New York, Paris, Tokyo, and India before returning to Seattle in 1940. While volunteering to design and supervise at a religious sanctuary in India he was strongly influenced by Sri Aurobindo and was given the sandkrit name ‘sundarananda’‚ one who delights in beauty. Nakashima believed that it is necessary to remove the desire to promote one‚ individual ego from the creative process and to devote work each day to the divine.
Like many Japanese Americans, Nakashima and his wife were interned in a camp on the Idaho desert, he learned his craft from a Japanese carpenter he met there. In 1943 they moved to New Hope, PA and set up a studio and woodworking shop.
Nakashima’s straight back chair was introduced to the masses by Knoll in 1946, in 2008 Knoll worked with Mira Nakashima to reintroduce the chair. The Nakashima studio is still operating today under the supervision of his daughter, Mira Nakashima-Yarnall.
His major commissions included:
Furnishings for the late new york governor Nelson A. Rockefeller home, interiors for Columbia University, the Church of Christ the King in katsura, Kyoto, the International Paper Corporation, and the Monastery of Christ in the desert as well as the altars of peace. The altars of peace are now installed in New York City, Auroville / India, and the academy of art in Moscow / Russia.
You can view his works at:
The New York Metropolitan Museum, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo.