Nakashima’s Live Edge

In the first installment of MUSE, we shared a gorgeous still life from American photographer Johnny Miller. Today we’re celebrating the Live Edge… and George Nakashima (1905-1990). Born in Spokane WA, Nakashima grew up roaming the forests of the Olympic Peninsula. He studied architecture at University of Washington, and earned a Masters Degree at MIT. World travel influenced his making style.

He returned to the states during World War II, with his wife and small daughter. Ultimately the family settled not on the West Coast, but in New Hope, Pennsylvania. You can visit his studio and workshop there, which has carried forward through today, thanks to the dedication, grace and talent of his daughter Mira, and his students. Nakashima is truly an icon of American craft. In his designs, he indulged a love of imperfection in beautiful wood. As important as gorgeous, intricate grain, the natural cracks, holes and live edge of the wood are celebrated in his work.

George Nakashima and Daughter Mira

Photo: John Loenbard for Life Magazine in 1970, at the New Hope Studio

Nakashima Bench with Live Edge

Photo: 2013 Nakashima Retrospective, Toronto CA, Presented by Mjölk

Nakashima Conoid Table

Photo: 2013 Nakashima Retrospective, Toronto CA, Presented by Mjölk

Nakashima’s vision and portfolio has been an inspiration to many of our Vermont furniture makers. You’ll find console and sofa tables, dining tables, coffee tables, and more. Showing off handsome grains, a carefully preserved live edge and in some instances, beautifully incorporated imperfections.

Gasperetti Live Edge Sofa Table

The demi lune table above from Bob Gasperetti features a Yellow Birch Burl top with a live edge to rival any. Bob’s portfolio is filled with interesting pieces like this. Plus, we’ve collected a few more *notables* here… A Nakashima Inspired Table from Londonderry Maker Joe Breznick; A Claro Slab Coffee Table from Dan Mosheim, Dorset Custom Furniture; A Knothole Table from Chris Ericson Furniture, South Newfane. Not a live edge, but a celebration of imperfection in the final, graceful design.

Nakashima believed that the soul of a tree continued to live and breathe through the furniture pieces he crafted and his book, “The Soul of a Tree” explores his life, work and philosophy. It’s a great addition to any *creative* library. Kind, visionary, generous, compassionate, innovative, and brave, this artist is our muse for today, and for many days.



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