Just In: George Nakashima Room Divider

January 20, 2017

Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA) is pleased to present a triple sliding door room divider by celebrated designer George Nakashima (1905–1990), which will be available in our March 5, 2017 Modern Art & Design Auction.

Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA)

George Nakashima, Room Divider, executed 1977
March 5, 2017 Modern Art & Design Auction

An idealistic figure, whose every object was created with a Zen-like philosophy, Nakashima first established his reputation on the basis of his fine craftsmanship and unwavering attention to detail. Renowned for his sensitive approach to materials, he took care to honor the original form of the wood and often chose to highlight the natural quirks of the grain in his designs. He eschewed veneers, plastics and metals, rejecting out of hand any material that would compromise the structural or visual integrity of the boards which he had so carefully selected. He chose to finish his pieces with oil in order to preserve the original color of the surface.

Born in Spokane, Washington, Nakashima studied architecture, graduating with a master’s from MIT in 1930. He embarked on a series of travels across Africa, Europe, and Japan, where he began an intensive study of the latter’s architecture and design. There he accrued the skills and techniques of Japanese joinery that became a hallmark of his practice. He went on to establish his own workshop in New Hope, Pennsylvania in 1944, where he worked directly with numerous clients to create furnishings tailored to their needs.

The room divider’s low profile and simple, elegant form is typical of his work, which was informed equally by the craft of Japanese carpentry and the aesthetic of architectural modernism. With a solid finished back, the piece was designed to be seen in the round, thus endowing it with dual functionality as both a dividing piece and a storage item. The cabinet is accessed via an exquisitely-constructed set of three sliding doors, striated with alternating strips of pandanus cloth, made from a Southeast Asian palm, and high quality Persian walnut. This combination of wooden frame and fabric is one of Nakashima’s signature motifs, one which he employed on the doors of multiple credenza and case designs. It is a means of adding interest to the cabinet face, preventing the piece from appearing unduly heavy or blocky.

Possessing a timeless quality, Nakashima’s versatile designs are both beautiful and practical, and continue to be used and enjoyed today by collectors. This is a wonderful opportunity to acquire a piece by one of the most important woodworkers of the 20th century.

Lot information:
George Nakashima
Room Divider, Triple Sliding Door
Studio, executed 1977
Persian Walnut and Pandanus Cloth
24″ x 84″ x 20”
Est: $35,000-$50,000
March 5, 2017 Modern Art & Design Auction


Sozanski, E.J. “George Nakashima: Woodworker. 1905-1990.” American Woodworker. September / October, 1990. 80.
“Conoid Room Divider.”, Web. Jan, 16. 2017.

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