Nakashima from the Collection of John and Milly Jarem

The Jarem's mid-century modern Princeton home, photographed c. 1961.

By the early 1960s, John Jarem was an electrical engineer working for RCA on secret defense contract research for the cold war. In his free time he enjoyed woodworking and was especially drawn to the beautiful forms and simple designs of George Nakashima’s furniture. He and his wife, Milly, begin to acquire Nakashima’s work in the late 1950s to furnish their first home in Moorestown, New Jersey and continued to do so for their next home in Princeton. The furniture remained with them for the rest of their lives, deeply cherished and, as their son fondly notes, host to countless enjoyable happy hours with friends and family.

John Jarem
Sarah Mildred "Milly" Jarem

George Nakashima 1905–1990

George Nakashima was born in Spokane, Washington in 1905. He received a Bachelor of Architecture at the University of Washington in 1929 and a Master of Architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1931, as well as the Prix Fontainebleau from L’Ecole Americaine des Beaux Arts in France in 1928. He moved back to Paris briefly in 1934, after which he moved to Tokyo to work for architect Antonin Raymond, where he was exposed to the Japanese folk art tradition. His work for Raymond sent him to Pondicherry, India, where he discovered his second career as a furniture maker. While there, he designed and supervised the construction of Golconde, a dormitory for Sri Aurobindo Ashram.

In 1940, Nakashima returned to the United States to start a family with his new wife, Marion Okajima, and the couple soon had their first child, Mira. They had settled in Seattle, Washington, and like many of Japanese ancestry living on the west coast, the Nakashimas were sent to an internment camp in Idaho during WWII. While Nakashima was there he made furniture from whatever pieces of wood he could find and learned techniques of Japanese woodworking from others stationed at the camp, including a skilled woodworker named Gentaro Hikogawa. After nearly a year at the camp, in 1943, Antonin Raymond successfully petitioned for the family’s release, which prompted their relocation to New Hope, Pennsylvania. Living on the Raymond farm, it wasn’t before long until Nakashima began making furniture once again and, in 1945, opened his furniture and woodworking studio.

On Nakashima’s property, he designed the family’s quarters, the woodshop, and many out buildings, including an arboretum. There he created a body of work that incorporated Japanese design and shop practices, as well as Modernism—work that made his name synonymous with the best of 20th century Studio Craftsman furniture.

Nakashima believed that the tree and its wood dictated the piece it was to become. He elevated what others would see as imperfections: choosing boards with knots and burls and cracks, which he would enhance and stabilize with butterfly joints. He designed furnishings for sitting, dining, sleeping, and working. While all his work is prized, his Frenchman’s Cove and Conoid tables are most so, particularly when executed in exotic woods and with free edges. Many of his designs are known by their distinctive bases: Conoid, Miguren, Trestle, and Pyramid among them. He is also known for his Mira chairs and stools, named for his daughter, who now leads his shop and continues his design legacy.

While Nakashima’s philosophy did not embrace mass production, he did collaborate with Knoll from 1945-1954 and on the Origins line with Widdicomb-Mueller between 1957 and 1961. Major commissions included furnishings for Nelson Rockefeller and Columbia University. His works are represented in the most important institutions in the world. Among many awards from the AIA and other prestigious institutions, Nakashima received the Third Order of the Sacred Treasure from the Emperor and Government of Japan. He received the designation "Living Treasure" in the United States, and he worked and exhibited until shortly before his death in June 1990, one week after receiving his final award, Alumnus Summa Laude Dignatus, from the University of Washington.

Upcoming Lots George Nakashima

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Conoid chair | ragoarts.com

400

George Nakashima

Conoid chair
estimate: $2,800–3,500

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Table lamp | ragoarts.com

402

George Nakashima

Table lamp
estimate: $6,500–8,500

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Minguren II end table | ragoarts.com

403

George Nakashima

Minguren II end table
estimate: $15,000–20,000

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Custom Hi-Fi/Bar cabinet | ragoarts.com

405

George Nakashima

Custom Hi-Fi/Bar cabinet
estimate: $17,000–22,000

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Kornblut cabinet | ragoarts.com

407

George Nakashima

Kornblut cabinet
estimate: $10,000–15,000

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Hanging Wall cabinet | ragoarts.com

409

George Nakashima

Hanging Wall cabinet
estimate: $30,000–40,000

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Rare Bahut cabinet | ragoarts.com

410

George Nakashima

Rare Bahut cabinet
estimate: $20,000–30,000

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Conoid chairs, set of six | ragoarts.com

412

George Nakashima

Conoid chairs, set of six
estimate: $17,000–22,000

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Exceptional Conoid dining table | ragoarts.com

413

George Nakashima

Exceptional Conoid dining table
estimate: $20,000–30,000

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Triple Chest of Drawers | ragoarts.com

415

George Nakashima

Triple Chest of Drawers
estimate: $15,000–20,000

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Slab coffee table | ragoarts.com

416

George Nakashima

Slab coffee table
estimate: $18,000–24,000

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Rare and Early cabinet | ragoarts.com

418

George Nakashima

Rare and Early cabinet
estimate: $15,000–20,000

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Conoid Cushion lounge chair | ragoarts.com

419

George Nakashima

Conoid Cushion lounge chair
estimate: $8,000–12,000

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Hanging Wall cabinet | ragoarts.com

422

George Nakashima

Hanging Wall cabinet
estimate: $7,000–10,000

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Lounge Chair Rocker with Right Arm | ragoarts.com

423

George Nakashima

Lounge Chair Rocker with Right Arm
estimate: $7,000–9,000

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Double Chest of Drawers | ragoarts.com

424

George Nakashima

Double Chest of Drawers
estimate: $13,000–16,000

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Chest | ragoarts.com

426

George Nakashima

Chest
estimate: $6,000–9,000

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Cushion armchairs, pair | ragoarts.com

428

George Nakashima

Cushion armchairs, pair
estimate: $4,000–6,000

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Conoid chair | ragoarts.com

430

George Nakashima

Conoid chair
estimate: $2,500–3,500

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Slab coffee table | ragoarts.com

432

George Nakashima

Slab coffee table
estimate: $18,000–22,000

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Sliding Door cabinet | ragoarts.com

433

George Nakashima

Sliding Door cabinet
estimate: $9,000–12,000

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Rare Special tea cart | ragoarts.com

435

George Nakashima

Rare Special tea cart
estimate: $15,000–20,000

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Q bench | ragoarts.com

436

George Nakashima

Q bench
estimate: $12,000–16,000

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Minguren I coffee table | ragoarts.com

468

George Nakashima

Minguren I coffee table
estimate: $12,000–18,000

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Chest | ragoarts.com

470

George Nakashima

Chest
estimate: $7,000–9,000

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Grass-Seated chair | ragoarts.com

471

George Nakashima

Grass-Seated chair
estimate: $2,000–3,000

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Trestle dining table | ragoarts.com

473

George Nakashima

Trestle dining table
estimate: $10,000–15,000

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Bench | ragoarts.com

476

George Nakashima

Bench
estimate: $5,000–7,000

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Early Special bookcase | ragoarts.com

478

George Nakashima

Early Special bookcase
estimate: $1,500–2,000

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Wall shelves, set of three | ragoarts.com

480

George Nakashima

Wall shelves, set of three
estimate: $2,500–3,500

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Queen-size headboard | ragoarts.com

481

George Nakashima

Queen-size headboard
estimate: $7,000–10,000

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Special trundle bed | ragoarts.com

482

George Nakashima

Special trundle bed
estimate: $5,000–7,000

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Chest, model 212-L and mirror, model 270-W | ragoarts.com

484

George Nakashima

Chest, model 212-L and mirror, model 270-W
estimate: $5,000–7,000

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Sliding Door cabinet | ragoarts.com

491

George Nakashima

Sliding Door cabinet
estimate: $7,500–10,000

Auction Results George Nakashima

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Exceptional Cross-Legged coffee table | ragoarts.com

George Nakashima

Exceptional Cross-Legged coffee table
estimate: $25,000–35,000
result: $75,000

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Hanging Wall Cabinet | ragoarts.com

George Nakashima

Hanging Wall Cabinet
estimate: $30,000–40,000
result: $68,750

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Exceptional Hanging Wall Cabinet | ragoarts.com

George Nakashima

Exceptional Hanging Wall Cabinet
estimate: $30,000–40,000
result: $62,500

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Fine Triple Sliding Door cabinet | ragoarts.com

George Nakashima

Fine Triple Sliding Door cabinet
estimate: $25,000–35,000
result: $53,125

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Fine book-matched Minguren II dining table | ragoarts.com

George Nakashima

Fine book-matched Minguren II dining table
estimate: $45,000–65,000
result: $50,000

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Set of ten Conoid chairs | ragoarts.com

George Nakashima

Set of ten Conoid chairs
estimate: $22,500–27,500
result: $50,000

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Special Wall Case | ragoarts.com

George Nakashima

Special Wall Case
estimate: $25,000–35,000
result: $46,875

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Triple Sliding Door Cabinet | ragoarts.com

George Nakashima

Triple Sliding Door Cabinet
estimate: $30,000–40,000
result: $45,500

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Conoid Headboard and king-size Conoid Platform Bed | ragoarts.com

George Nakashima

Conoid Headboard and king-size Conoid Platform Bed
estimate: $40,000–50,000
result: $43,750

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Kornblut cabinets, pair | ragoarts.com

George Nakashima

Kornblut cabinets, pair
estimate: $25,000–35,000
result: $40,960

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Exceptional | ragoarts.com

George Nakashima

Exceptional
estimate: $40,000–50,000
result: $40,625

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Conoid bench with spindle back | ragoarts.com

George Nakashima

Conoid bench with spindle back
estimate: $35,000–45,000
result: $40,000

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Hanging Wall Cabinet | ragoarts.com

George Nakashima

Hanging Wall Cabinet
estimate: $18,000–24,000
result: $40,000

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Long chair | ragoarts.com

George Nakashima

Long chair
estimate: $30,000–50,000
result: $37,500

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Kent Hall floor lamp | ragoarts.com

George Nakashima

Kent Hall floor lamp
estimate: $15,000–20,000
result: $35,000

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Double Chest of Drawers | ragoarts.com

George Nakashima

Double Chest of Drawers
estimate: $7,000–9,000
result: $35,000

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Triple Chest of Drawers | ragoarts.com

George Nakashima

Triple Chest of Drawers
estimate: $10,000–15,000
result: $32,500

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Exceptional Conoid dining table | ragoarts.com

George Nakashima

Exceptional Conoid dining table
estimate: $28,000–38,000
result: $31,250

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Conoid dining table | ragoarts.com

George Nakashima

Conoid dining table
estimate: $10,000–15,000
result: $30,000

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Minguren I coffee table | ragoarts.com

George Nakashima

Minguren I coffee table
estimate: $30,000–50,000
result: $30,000

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Triple Sliding Door Cabinet | ragoarts.com

George Nakashima

Triple Sliding Door Cabinet
estimate: $20,000–30,000
result: $30,000

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Long chair | ragoarts.com

George Nakashima

Long chair
estimate: $20,000–30,000
result: $30,000

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Slab coffee table from the Collection of Andy Warhol | ragoarts.com

George Nakashima

Slab coffee table from the Collection of Andy Warhol
estimate: $20,000–30,000
result: $30,000

GEORGE NAKASHIMA, Kent Hall floor lamp | ragoarts.com

George Nakashima

Kent Hall floor lamp
estimate: $17,500–22,500
result: $27,500