Nakashima ‘The Soul of a Tree’ from Art House Documentary


Having a short break always proves valuable in the long run. Such a siesta for myself has broken through on many levels over the years, mainly looking at areas which haven’t been addressed before. It could mean wrapping up unresolved projects and getting new ideas on paper. This particular time has given me a moment to read through a variety of design orientated books, those that have been sitting on my office shelf for many years and that may have been overlooked. So I was pretty excited to conquer around four or five of these strays over the last 10 days, and they’ve been very valuable to my thought process.

I’m sure many of the topics will arise at some point, they usually find a way out of my brain in whatever shape or form, but one thing I’ve been thinking about is “spirituality” or “soul”. Not necessarily in a religious sense, but it could be the spirituality of the material and what it stands for, how the craftsman or maker is using that in their design. This segment from the documentary named ‘Art House’ by Don Freeman focuses specifically on the Nakashima studio and their furniture, I thought this short film brings up the question in a subtle way. How does such a thing add value? Woodworker Adam Martini points it out in the film when talking about the ‘Altars of Peace’ project, saying “the wood is real, so you better be real too when you too sit at that table”. These tiny details are vital and can make or break an object of use, but I do have to say the Nakashima workshop is quite special in this regard. Maybe it’s because of their constant pursuit of perfection through natural materials, whatever way to me it’s almost an unexplainable aura.

This is only one segment of the 90 minute documentary that’s been inspired by the book “Artists’ Handmade Houses” and looks to explore the handmade homes created and lived in by a dozen distinguished American artists such as Sam Maloof and Wharton Esherick, among many others. If you like what you see here I’d recommend jumping over to the two links below where you’ll find more information on the documentary and where it can be viewed in it’s entirety, it should be released sometime in May 2014 and is sure to offer a fantastic insight into the lives and works of these talented artists.