George Nakashima (1905-1990) was a Japanese American architect, designer, and woodworker. Born in Spokane, Washington, Nakashima developed a love of nature and an appreciation for trees as a boy scout roaming the mountain forests of the Pacific Northwest. In 1929, he graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelors of Architecture, after spending a year abroad on scholarship at the École Américaine des Beaux Arts in Fontainebleau, France. In 1930 he graduated from MIT with a Masters of Architecture.
The young architect continued to explore the world, absorbing aspects of European modernism, Japanese craft tradition,
and Indian spiritualism. He spent much of 1933 in Paris before heading to Tokyo in 1934 to join the architectural firm of fellow American Antonin Raymond. In 1937, Raymond sent Nakashima to Pondicherry, India to design and oversee the
construction of a dormitory at the ashram of Sri Aurobindo.
After a brief stay in Japan, during which he met his future wife, Nakashima moved to Seattle and married Marion Okajima in 1941. His fledging furniture business in that city proved short-lived. In 1942, George, Marion and their infant daughter, Mira, were taken to an internment camp for Americans of Japanese descent in Minidoka, Idaho. With the help of Antonin Raymond, Nakashima and his family resettled near New Hope, Pennsylvania in 1943.
In New Hope, Nakashima began building a home and a craft furniture business that would sustain him for the rest of his life. Later, he would be recognized as one of the pioneers of the American craft and studio furniture movements.
Today, Nakashima’s workshop continues to produce hand crafted furniture and custom designs under the direction of George’s daughter, Mira Nakashima.