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George Nakashima

Slab I Coffee Table



An early Slab I coffee table with a free-form top. There is a divot and 2 burn marks which would have occurred when cutting the board. The electric saw would have hit a piece of metal (likely a bullet). That saw broke and the pieces of it made the marks and divot. This is an excellent example of Nakashima’s interest in the history of the tree. Rather than throw the board away, he used it as it was simply another event in what he called “the 2nd life of the tree.”


American black walnut.

George Nakashima


In the workshop of George Nakashima, the soul of the tree was celebrated. "It is an art- and soul-satisfying adventure to walk the forests of the world, to commune with trees,” Nakashima said, “to bring this living material to the work bench, ultimately to give it a second life." Nakashima, an architect who trained at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, discovered woodworking while in an internment camp during WWII. In 1943, he moved to New Hope, Pennsylvania and opened his studio. There he created pieces highlighting wood’s natural beauty, most notably by including the tree’s rough outer layer, or the “free edge”. Nakashima worked throughout the world; in India, he became deeply spiritual. He developed a goal to construct peace altars on every continent—the first, made of book-matched slabs of black walnut, was installed at New York’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine in 1986.

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    61.0 x 38.0 x 142.0 cm (24.0 x 15.0 x 55.9 in)

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