East Meets West

George Nakashima’s Influence on Thos. Moser


A picture of George Nakashima. He is sitting in one of his spindle chairs and wearing a cream colored woven sweater and light pants. Behind him are large live-edge slabs of wood.

Photo by: Nathan Benn


No craftsman has had a more significant influence on our evolution and design ethos than George Nakashima. His ability to showcase the raw beauty and character of the wood with his clean designs was aspirational. Our Eastward collection pays homage to master furniture maker George Nakashima.   

Born in Spokane, Washington, to Japanese parents in 1905, George was a trained architect who fused the best of traditional American, Scandinavian, and Japanese aesthetics. In 1948, he created a famous low-back Windsor-inspired lounge chair that brought Cubist and Scandinavian design together. This modern craftsman’s influence is evident in several of our collections.  

Work in progress of the Live-Edge Eastward Bench. The image on the right is a finished view of the seat featuring Nakashima's trademark butterfly joins.






“It is an art and soul-satisfying adventure to walk the forests of the world, to commune with trees… to bring this living material to the work bench, ultimately to give it a second life.”





In the 1950s, at his shop, in New Hope, Pennsylvania, he strove to give wood what he called a “second life” by celebrating its untamed forms, reflecting the Japanese reverence for nature. He built tables and chests along early American lines but used solid planks with sapwood and live edges still visible. He respected wood’s tendency to crack, securing boards from further separation with his signature butterfly key. George proved that new design could flow from a synthesis of vastly different points of view and an idea at the heart of our work.  





Tom would visit George’s shop on numerous occasions and was impressed by his bearing as much as his furniture. Like other artists, Woodworkers are often insecure, wondering if they are too mainstream, too Avant-garde, too slow and meticulous, or too fast and sloppy. But, as Tom Moser recalls, ” George was self-assured, full of a quiet conviction that he was on the right path, and his craftsmanship was flawless.” 

George’s originality influenced us and several generations of woodworkers, particularly on the west coast. His sensitivity to the materials led him to directly become the father of the California Organic School, later made famous by Art Carpenter and Sam Maloof. 



George had an affinity for using contrasting species, like walnut and hickory, a hallmark of studio work. That perfect balance is what gives our Eastward Collection its defining look. The Eastward aesthetic is a study of contrasts: light and dark, curves and facets, horizontal and vertical. Its simplicity defies the skill and strength of its construction. Despite strong American roots, it is imbued with the spirit of Japanese craftsmanship– just like its inspiration.  


Live-Edge Eastward Bench in progress









The tree’s fate rests with the woodworker.

In hundreds of years its juices have nurtured its unique substances. A graining, a subtle coloring, an aura, a presence that will exist this once, never to reappear. It is to catch this movement, to identify with these presences, to find this fleeting relationship, to capture its spirit, which challenges the woodworker.”

The Soul of a Tree



Four spindle chairs are in a studio setting with a wooden floor.


Though Nakashima died in 1990, his daughter, Mira Nakashima-Yarnell, still operates the studio. It wasn’t only George’s designs that inspired us; it was his business model. He and his wife, Marion, proved that a family could build furniture with absolute integrity and make a successful small business from the endeavor. Throughout his life, his vision never faltered, his love of wood informed all that he did, and he embodied everything a designer-craftsman of wood furniture aspires to be. 




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