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New Book Shows How Woodworker George Nakashima Created Iconic Furniture

Image Source: Beth Brody

The new book from Mira Nakashima, daughter of George Nakashima, one of the leading innovators of 20th century furniture, takes a behind-the-scenes look at the Nakashima furniture-making process and how he became a household name.

Featuring original sketches, the philosophy behind his masterpieces, and family history, The Nakashima Process Book lights a path into what makes Nakashima furniture unique. Mira, a trained architect and Harvard graduate, has worked in the family business since 1970, and currently produces her father’s iconic designs as well as her own custom, handcrafted furniture.

The Nakashima Process Book explores George and Mira’s devotion to discovering the inherent beauty of wood so that noble trees might have a second life as furniture. Nakashima Woodworkers’ process remains unchanged — embracing the unique qualities of wood to reveal the “soul of the tree” and emphasizing the natural beauty of the wood grain and burl. No two pieces of Nakashima furniture are identical, and this book expands the understanding and appreciation of the time-consuming, individual attention spent on each piece of furniture produced.

“Making furniture is an act of faith — that the wood holds promise to become something beautiful, that the designer will bring it to its fullest potential, and the craftspeople will construct a piece that is both practical and aesthetic,” said Mira Nakashima. “We created this book as a window into the design and craft traditions developed by my father.”

A Nakashima piece is a conscious simplification of design that allows wood to tell its own story. The studio’s approach to design represents the rich and active legacy of a studio that, to this day, is led by a strict adherence to craftsmanship and a humble respect for wood.

The Nakashima Process Book describes tree anatomy, furniture terminology, how wood is selected, and much more. The book is printed and handbound in Italy with an exposed spine that pays tribute to traditional craftsmanship. The removable cover unfolds to reveal a large-scale, two-sided poster of George Nakashima triumphantly holding one of his early masterpieces, the Grass-seated Chair, and original drawings from George Nakashima on the underside.

The Nakashima Process Book ($35) can be ordered at nakashimawoodworkers.com/accessory/process-book/.

The Nakashima Studio is located at 1847 Aquetong Road in New Hope, Pa. Visitors must register in advance at nakashimawoodworkers.com/visit/ and follow all indicated visitor guidelines.

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