George Nakashima

George Nakashima was born in Spokane, Washington, in 1905 to Japanese immigrant parents and attended the University of Washington in Forestry and Architecture, earning a scholarship to the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Fontainebleau and Harvard University in 1929. He received a Master’s degree in Architecture from MIT in 1930, returned to Paris shortly thereafter, and then to Tokyo in 1934, where he entered the employ of Frank Lloyd Wright’s protégé, the Czech architect Antonin Raymond. He was sent to Pondicherry, India, in 1936 to oversee the design and building of the first reinforced concrete building in that country, and became a disciple of Sri Aurobindo in the process. Because of the war, he left India in 1939, spent some time in Tokyo and met his future bride, Marion Okajima, who was also brought up in Seattle, Washington. They returned separately to the United States and were married in Los Angeles in 1941. After observing some Frank Lloyd Wright buildings under construction there, Nakashima decided to leave architecture and to create furniture so he could control the quality all the way from raw materials through design and construction. After George moved back to Seattle to start his furniture business, Father Leopold H. Tibesar allowed him to use the machinery at Maryknoll in exchange for teaching the boys woodworking.

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