Last week, we made the trek to the Nakashima Studio in New Hope, Pennsylvania. My in-laws made this trek in 1959 with Shari and my husband in tow. They put a deposit on a slab coffee table and hanging wall cabinet, and were nervous about spending so much money. Who in his right mind would spend $300.00 on furniture with knot holes in it and cracks fixed with inlaid butterfly shaped pieces of wood that didn’t even match?
The furniture was delivered to their suburban home a few months later and they enjoyed it for the next 48 years. That furniture saw a lot of parties and family celebrations. When Milton died, the guest book for the memorial ceremony sat on the cabinet for guests to sign.
When Vicky died, the furniture passed to Shari who enjoyed it every day of the short time she had left. Shari longed to make one last trip to the Nakashima Studio but was too sick. At her memorial ceremony we set a beautiful wooden box holding her ashes on the coffee table along with her glasses.
Last week, as I was walking on the gravel paths that lead from one studio building to the next, I realized that trees tell a story. You can read history in trees if you know how. Nakashima understood the soul of trees; he did not alter or mask a tree’s spirit with detailed carving, paint or heavy hardware. Instead, he engaged in a dialog with it, and listened-really listened-to each whorl, knot and wormhole. George Nakashima’s work is a reminder that imperfection has its own beauty. If we could take those principles and apply them to each other, we would understand that our imperfections are what make us remarkable. And beautiful.
We gave the furniture to family members who we hope will enjoy it for the next 48 years.