June 8, 2021 11:00 EDT

Select Design

 
  Lot 13
 

13

George Nakashima
Exceptional "Conoid" Desk, New Hope, Pennsylvania, 1961

English walnut, American black walnut, rosewood, hickory

H: 29, L: 65, D: 37 in.

Provenance

Acquired directly from the artist
Private Collection, New York

Sold for $75,600
Estimated at $60,000 - $80,000


 

English walnut, American black walnut, rosewood, hickory

H: 29, L: 65, D: 37 in.

Provenance

Acquired directly from the artist
Private Collection, New York

Note

This lot is sold with a digital copy of the original order card from George Nakashima Woodworkers.

Literature

George Nakashima, studio catalogue, unpaginated
Mira Nakashima, Nature, Form & Spirit, pp. 172, 179-180

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George Nakashima

George Katsutoshi Nakashima, the architect, designer, and master woodworker who was born in Spokane, Washington, but eventually settled in Bucks County. His New Hope, Pennsylvania studio lives on as George Nakashima Woodworkers—overseen by his daughter Mira Nakashima—and his home is open to visitors.

Nakashima trained as an architect; he earned his bachelor’s from the University of Washington, then his master’s from MIT in 1930. He traveled extensively upon the completion of his education, eventually ending up in Japan, where he met the American architect Antonin Raymond, a protégé of Frank Lloyd Wright. Working for Raymond, Nakashima had the opportunity to explore Japan; his fascination with Japanese culture, architecture, and design would influence his future woodwork creations. Raymond appointed Nakashima to head architect of a dormitory in Ashram of Sri Aurobindo, India, where Nakashima produced his first piece of furniture.

 

Nakashima returned to America in 1940 and was subsequently imprisoned in Idaho’s Camp Minidoka, a World War II internment camp, in 1942. There, he became acquainted with Gentaro Hikogawa, who taught him the art of traditional Japanese woodworking hand tools and techniques. After the war, Nakashima settled down in New Hope, Pennsylvania, where he designed and crafted his own workshop and home. Nakashima’s furniture designs are now world-renowned for their blend of simple, natural designs that cater to modern needs. His furniture was not merely the convergence of form and function, but embodied the spiritual tenets of the Mingei Movement, founded by Soetsu Yanagi. The movement was to Japan what the Arts and Crafts Movement represented to the West: an attempt to restore craft traditions and man’s place in the natural world, in stark contrast to the growing specter of an impersonal and dehumanizing machine-world. As Mira Nakashima has written, “What he did embodied a message to all modern societies that we must constantly remember the eternal in all that we do.”

Freeman’s has established, a long, successful history of selling George Nakashima’s pieces, consistently achieving remarkable results. In its twelfth annual Pennsylvania Sale, Freeman’s auctioned the late Peter Engelmann’s Nakashima collection, an extensive selection that ranged from a unique 1967 coffee table commission to a Mira Nakashima work from 2004. Recent successes include the 2017 sale of a “reception house” table and set of six conoid chairs from 1981 for $187,500 and the 2020 sale of a 1986 “Holtz” table for $137,500.