Mira Nakashima (b. 1942)
Since 1990, Mira Nakashima has furthered the legacy of her father, the preeminent American woodworker George Nakashima, whilst standing on her own as an artist. It was in that year, upon her father’s death, that Mira, a gifted craftsperson in her own right, took charge of the studio her father established in the 1940s.
Since then, she has produced his classic and traditional lines while extending the family tradition through her own design solutions. She calls her line “The Keisho Collection”. “Keisho”, a Japanese word, translates as “continuance” or “succession”.
The Nakashima Studio, a workshop and family compound near the historic art colony of New Hope, PA, was designed and built by George Nakashima in the 1940s. (Both George and Mira are trained architects.) Designated as a National Historic Landmark in 2014, it is a serene environment, many miles and years away from the events that brought the family to Pennsylvania.
That journey began in 1943, when George Nakashima and his family, including infant daughter Mira, were confined at the Japanese-American internment camp in Midoka, Idaho for the duration of WWII. Thanks to sponsorship from architect Antonin Raymond, the Nakashimas were able to relocate to New Hope, PA after the war ended. Here, George began to design and build furniture, scrounging for scrap materials on the Raymond property, incorporating into his designs the burls, knots and cracks that now exemplify his style – a tradition carried on by Mira.
Mira studied Architecture Science at Harvard and, at her father’s urging, went on to earn a graduate degree at Waseda University in Japan. After graduation, she returned to her family home and accepted a part-time job working for Nakashima Studios. Apprenticing under her father taught Mira that, even for creative people, there is a certain amount of discipline and repetitive learning required to master one’s craft. Though George Nakashima was a man of few words who rarely praised her work, Mira was never discouraged. She understood that her father’s philosophy valued the common goal over the personal: a direct contrast to the Western culture’s celebration of the ego.
Embodying this philosophy, Mira, a master of her craft, has not been concerned with making her own brand. She sees her work as a continuation of her father’s, feels his presence in the studio, and continues to honor his legacy with Nakashima Studio designs.
After George’s passing, Mira was given the opportunity to create a Reading Room in the Michener Art Museum as a tribute to her father. A tranquil haven, the natural, simple space reflects both the aesthetic of traditional Japanese culture and the best of Modern design.
Mira’s respect for her history and heritage, coupled with her artistry, has carried Nakashima Studio into the 21st century. Rago is proud that she is a great friend to the auction house, one who authenticates for us and has helped to make us the unrivalled source for work from Nakashima Studio at auction.