George Nakashima In-Depth: Anatomy of the Conoid Line

George Nakashima In-Depth: Anatomy of the Conoid Line

American-born architect and woodworker George Nakashima spent nearly five decades perfecting his selfless artistry in pursuit of natural beauty.

05/22/2019     News and Film, Auctions


Designing furniture forms he felt revealed the particular "destiny" of each board of timber, his works took on a new language in the names of the forms imposed upon them: Minguren, Conoid, Odakyu, Bahut and others. Individually, they reference a place, person or idea, but combined form an idiom of reverence for the natural world and unique design philosophy. The Conoid line, for example, is a term of geometry that George Nakashima first utilized in 1957 in the design of a studio whose roof took the uniquely-curved "Conoid" shape that bears its name. The furniture designs which followed from 1957-1961 took the same name, announcing a new era of achievement and aspiration for the studio.



Lot 32  |  George Nakashima (American, 1905-1990), Conoid Chair, New Hope, Pennsylvania, 1967, $3,000-5,000

Lot 32 | George Nakashima (American, 1905-1990), Conoid Chair, New Hope, Pennsylvania, 1967, $3,000-5,000



Around 1960 Nakashima designed his eponymous Conoid chair. The Conoid chair revisits his "New" chair design from 1955 with scooped seat, hickory spindles and curved crest rail (all evocative of Windsor chair design), but with a cantilevered seat and continuous leg and stile, thus supporting the sitter on "two feet". The sled feet were devised to provide stability and allow the chair to slide on carpeted surfaces.



Lot 28  |  Fine Conoid Bench, New Hope, Pennsylvania, 1974, $30,000-50,000

Lot 28 | Fine Conoid Bench, New Hope, Pennsylvania, 1974, $30,000-50,000



Following, around 1961 Nakashima introduced his first Conoid bench, what Derek Ostergard called in his 1989 Full Circle show "the most dynamic seating ever designed by Nakashima." Utilizing large planks of freeform timber for the bench's seat and an asymmetrically-aligned spindled back to provide for a "built-in" side table surface, the bench achieves a low profile on four tapering conical legs, always oriented perpendicular to the seat.



Lot 20  |  Special Conoid Coffee Table, New Hope, Pennsylvania, 1970, $20,000-30,000

Lot 20 | Special Conoid Coffee Table, New Hope, Pennsylvania, 1970, $20,000-30,000



The Conoid coffee table features a conical turned leg (or legs) with a and curved plank support opposite, devised to buttress and showcase a wider, free-form, and often more spectacularly-grained top.




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