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George Nakashima laying out a form for bending wood to be used in chairs.
Better late than never – the Design Center at Philadelphia University mounted an exhibit on the evolution of George Nakashima’s Straight Chair, which ran from April 30 to June 5, 2009. The exhibit traced the chair’s metamorphosis from a hand-made piece produced in Nakashima’s Pennsylvania workshop, to its years (1946-1954) of production by the Knoll furniture company. The story of Knoll’s model N19 runs full-circle however, as the piece was re-released in 2008.
Working with Nakashima’s daughter Mira, a crack design time reviewed several old chairs at the Nakashima workshop museum, thoroughly documenting their construction. While Knoll’s N19 can never hope to approach the hand-made qualities that make a Nakashima piece what it is, it’s being touted as a darn good substitute.
Philadelphia University has posted an album covering the exhibition that’s certainly worth a look. If you’d like to have a look at the chair’s latest reinvention, visit Knoll Furniture.
For more information on the work of George Nakashima, have a look at the Fine Woodworking resources listed below.
A family strives to continue the work of a premiere American woodworker.
What it means to cut a tree.
For each plank there’s one perfect use.
At Fine Woodworking
When I think of George Nakashima, I often think “slab.” Letting the wood in a piece tell its own story, as opposed to changing its organic shape too much, was one of Nakashima’s hallmarks. For more information on working with large, onf-of-a-kind slabs of wood, have a lookat Doug Mooberry and Michael Zuba’s article in the current issue of Fine Woodworking.
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