Megan and I visited the Mingei International Museum in San Diego this spring. I had no idea at the time, but they had a number of Nakashima pieces on exhibit. This bookmatched walnut table:
is probably sixteen feet long, four feet wide, and seats eighteen people comfortably. Now that’s a dining table! The table is made of two bookmatched slabs, tied together at the center with butterfly keys, that I believe were made of cherry. The table top is about an inch thick.
The table is surrounded by Nakashima Conoid chairs, also made of walnut. The Conoid chair has only two legs, and the seat is cantilevered out from the legs. Very cool.
The exhibit also included some benches:
This one looks like it is constructed of cherry. It’s a single slab with a live edge, and spindles that I think are made of hickory support the stretcher. Splits in the crotch at the right end of the bench are tamed with cherry butterfly keys.
To top it off, the exhibit included a walnut Nakashima console cabinet, with burl wood of some sort used as handles. The carcass was constructed of wide thick planks, dovetailed at the corners, door panels look like a bookmatch of asymmetrical bookmatches:
I believe the table and chairs were designed and constructed by George Nakashima, but I think the console cabinet was constructed by Mira Nakashima (although I may be mistaken). Not sure who constructed the bench.
Seeing these pieces in person was all I needed for inspiration. Megan found some reasonably priced cherry slabs here in Wisconsin earlier this year, so I’m working on some designs now and will hopefully have a project starting in the next few weeks. I’ll start with the table, and follow with a bench or two. Chairs will come later.