Skip to Content
Arts of North America

Art created in North America includes objects made by native cultures of the present-day United States and Canada; paintings and decorative arts produced during colonial times; 18th- and 19th-century masterpieces; and the work of contemporary artists and photographers.

© George Nakashima Woodworker, S.A.
American, 1905 - 1990
Conoid Coffee Table
Black walnut

13 ½ x 77 x 30 ½ inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Museum purchase with funds provided by the
Mary Kathryn Lynch Kurtz Charitable Lead Trust

Arts of North America

George Nakashima was one of America's most influential first-generation furnituremakers and woodworkers. His synthesis of architectural elements and historical styles, and his respect for the inherent beauty of wood, transformed the way studio furniture was made from the 1940s to the 1970s and marked his pieces as important signifiers of grace, beauty, and integrity in the field.

In 1960, Nakashima returned to his architectural roots with the Conoid series. Named after his Conoid Studio, built in 1957, the new furniture designs synthesized architectural elements with organic forms. Wood choices, always important to Nakashima, became even more paramount. Many designs in the Conoid series also incorporated cantilever technology, a sign that although Nakashima was not a part of the new Modernism of the mid-century, he was still very much aware of progress in architecture and design. This table dates from the first year of Nakashima’s Conoid designs. Called a “special coffee table” on its bill of sale, it cost $140. The table's top—free-form and highly figured—exemplifies the richness of expression and organic nature of form indicative of the best Nakashima.