Biographical / Historical
George Nakashima (1905-1990) was a Japanese American architect, craftsman, woodworker, and furniture designer in New Hope, Pennsylvania. He was born in Spokane, Washington and received a bachelor's degree in architecture from the University of Washington in 1929. He also earned a master's degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1930.
After his studies, Nakashima traveled around the world by steamship. He spent time in France, North Africa, and Japan. While in Japan, he began working under architect Antonin Raymond. When Raymond's architecture company was commissioned to build for the Sri Aurobindo ashram in Puducherry, India, Nakashima became the onsite architect as well as a devotee of Sri Aurobindo. When World War II began, Nakashima returned to the U.S. with his wife, Marion, whom he met in Japan. George, Marion, and their infant daughter Mira were sent to a Japanese internment camp in Idaho in 1942. The Nakashimas were able to leave the camp after Raymond sponsored their release in 1943. Nakashima began working on Raymond's farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where he eventually built his workshop. Nakashima's son Kevin was born after the family relocated to Pennsylvania.
Nakashima's design work includes furniture lines for the Widdicomb Furniture Company and Knoll Furniture, and 200 pieces of furniture commissioned by Nelson Rockefeller. He also wrote a book titled The Soul of a Tree: A Master Woodworker's Reflections.
Nakashima died in 1990.