He Thumbs a Book of Photographs and Says,


“Fast modern contemporary furniture, I want no part of it. People wanting to express themselves, it’s just simply crap. That’s what’s causing all the ills of our society, individualism with nothing to express. You tear your guts out to express yourself and it ends up in frustration and a terrible environment…. (Wood is) a gift we should treasure and use in the most logical and beautiful way, and personal expression is quite illegitimate. It’s an arrogant conceit, and we have too much conceit in our society.”

— George Nakashima interviewed by John Kelsey for the January/February 1979 issue of Fine Woodworking (Issue No. 14).

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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16 Responses to He Thumbs a Book of Photographs and Says,

  1. calebjamesplanemaker says:


    I wish his straight chair was more comfortable. It looks beautiful. Sort of like the Wegner wishbone…



  2. Brian Clites says:

    Touche. Consider this a carte blanche.

    And what a great find! Someone should engrave that onto the underside of one of his $1M tables.


  3. Bob Snyder says:

    Is he saying it is not art if he doesn’t think it’s art? If so, sounds like something Kanye would say.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s a lot like the pot calling the kettle black…


  5. dnramirez says:

    I think the work should speak for itself. Based on the limited piece I’ve seen, he certainly had an eye for picking some beautiful wood.


  6. clmb512 says:

    Maybe he had a wonderful ironic sense of humor. Whatever. People are free to say what they want about anything. I’m free to laugh at it, scowl at it or ignore it completely.


  7. beshriver says:

    I can’t tell if the outfit is more post-safari or neo- county jail.


  8. Reblogged this on Trying to be Square and commented:
    Interesting and thought provoking. After some initial research George is a little to spiritual for me, but further reading is required.


  9. tpier says:

    Sounds like George really didn’t like Gary Knox Bennett’s Nail Cabinet.


  10. “believe me you colour happy people, in a culture where every blockhead has individuality, individuality becomes a thing for blockheads”. Karl Krauss.


  11. Ryan Cheney says:

    I wonder if being highly opinionated is a necessary condition of designing furniture or if furniture designers being highly opinionated is merely a frighteningly common coincidence. I also wonder how much it all matters in the end. My inkling is just to relax and do your own thing, but it’s harder, in actual practice, to relax when you’re as passionate about doing your own thing as furniture designers often are. My head hurts. Time for bed.


  12. Great conversation.
    I can agree with George Nakashima to a point. A craftsman ought to make what they make to serve others not primarily as a means of self expression. We should ask the question, “Is it more important that the world see me or that the world is served by me?”


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