Furniture Designer Mira Nakashima at D&R Greenway

Mira Nakashima

D&R Greenway Land Trust presents a special evening with renowned furniture designer Mira Nakashima on Thursday, March 22 (doors open 6:30 p.m., talk begins at 7 p.m.) at the Johnson Education Center, 1 Preservation Place, Princeton. Admission costs $10 person.

Mira Nakashima, the daughter of legendary furniture sculptor George Nakashima, will tell the story of the family’s woodworking legacy, followed by a signing of her book, Nature, Form, and Spirit: The Life and Legacy of George Nakashima. Nakashima pieces will be displayed and available for purchase, including a three-legged stool, candle holders, pencil holders, and bread boards. A second book will also be available for sale, titled The Soul of a Tree: A Master Woodworker’s Reflections. The program is in conjunction with the exhibit “Soul of a Tree,” on view through April 20. Artists include Tasha O’Neill, John Napoli, Michael Pascucci, and Sean Carney. RSVP at (609) 924-4646 or rsvp@drgreenway.org. Gallery hours are Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Mira Nakashima was a dedicated pupil who worked in the shadow of her father. “He had meticulous craftsmanship and attention to detail,” she recounts. George Nakashima (1905-1990) is best known for his superb craftsmanship and organic use of the natural lines and grain of the wood. Nakashima was also an architect who designed a number of distinguished buildings during his career, and was committed to the natural world. Both Mira and her father paid utmost respect to the tree the wood came from. He believed there was a spirit in the tree. “I feel it in the grain of the wood,” he said, as he shaped the wood to tell its story.

But when George died, many clients canceled their orders or demanded a discount because the pieces wouldn’t have his pedigree. For a time, Mira, who holds two degrees in architecture, thought she would have to shutter the family business.

Mira not only continued to fulfill orders for her father’s classics, but also expanded the firm’s repertory with designs of her own that, like his, showcase the natural form and character of wood. When she designs a piece, she stands in front of the wood she will use to draw her sketch. “It speaks to me,” she says. “The wood guides the pencil, and it designs itself.”

She continues to manage the Bucks County studio, George Nakashima Woodworkers, where she feels her father’s spirit watching over her, making sure she does it right. “Dad always said wood was like fruit,” she has said. “It was best just before it rots.”

“This is a unique opportunity to both own a Nakashima piece of art and support conservation of trees and forests,” says D&R Greenway President and CEO Linda Mead. “Ten years ago, when Mira presented here at the Johnson Education Center, there was standing room only. People went away in awe, inspired by the connection to nature found in the woodwork. We decided to offer this opportunity, once again, to experience woodworking as one would experience the sacred space of a forest.”

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