George Nakashima, Woodworker and Furniture Designer

Article Image for George Nakashima, Woodworker and Furniture Designer


George Nakashima, a name synonymous with exquisite craftsmanship and innovative design, has left an indelible mark on the world of woodworking and furniture design. His journey from a young architect to a revered woodworker is both inspiring and remarkable. Born in 1905 in Spokane, Washington, Nakashima's early life was shaped by his Japanese heritage and American upbringing, which later influenced his unique style.

Nakashima's educational background in architecture laid the foundation for his deep understanding of form and function. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Washington and later pursued a Master’s degree at MIT. These academic pursuits provided him with technical skills and an appreciation for the natural beauty of materials, particularly wood. Nakashima's designs are celebrated for their organic elegance, blending traditional Japanese aesthetics with modernist principles.

His journey took a pivotal turn during World War II when he was interned at the Minidoka War Relocation Center in Idaho. It was here that he met Gentaro Hikogawa, a Japanese carpenter who taught him traditional Japanese woodworking techniques. This experience profoundly influenced Nakashima's approach to furniture making, emphasizing simplicity, functionality, and respect for the natural characteristics of wood. Nakashima's legacy lives on through his timeless creations, which continue to inspire designers and craftsmen around the world.