Saturday morning we piled once more into the van to head up to Bucks County…this time to visit the Nakashima workshop in New Hope. We were there for the monthly tour, given by the current head and guiding light of the workshop, Mira Nakashima.
It was her father George who from the late 1940’s to his death in 1990, developed one of the most distinctive and respected voices in twentieth century furniture. He was equally individual as an architect, and all of the buildings on the nine acre property were designed and built by him. It’s a monument to George Nakashima in the very best sense, not a museum, but the home of a living tradition. Nakashima sought classic design that brought out the life of the timber he used.The harmony, from the smallest item of furniture through the architectural spaces to the landscape itself, has to be experienced to be believed. It shows what is possible when intelligence and respect for material combine at the highest level.
George himself was a second generation Japanese American, trained as a modernist architect. These different influences can be clearly felt in his work, but at the level of deep structure rather than style, and he looked for the consonances between traditions rather than the display of any kind of personality in his work.
The pictures here are a little sparse…in view of the numerous plagiarists of his work, interior shots are discouraged, and, well, your assistant scribe got a little too caught up in the tour itself to take many pictures. Included are a couple of shots from the Renwick of the Nakashima table there that caught our attention those weeks ago. So, why use this combination of elements to hold the top up? Why does the floor beam have a curved top and slanted ends…why does the vertical board taper towards the floor…? Because it’s pretty much perfect that way…