Mira Nakashima (American, b. 1942)
Custom Minguren II Dining Table, 2005
28-1/2 x 120 x 45 inches (72.4 x 304.8 x 114.3 cm)
Signed and dated in permanent marker to the underside
A CUSTOM SUITE FOR THE HYATT CORPORATE OFFICES, CHICAGO
In 2005, the Hyatt Corporation built a new national headquarters in the West Loop neighborhood in Chicago. Eschewing traditional, sanitized office decor in favor of something more comfortable, intimate, and warm, the Hyatt hotel group commissioned these pieces via the design firm Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill (SOM) for Hyatt's new corporate office. This was a large project undertaken to unify Hyatt's international brand, and meant to convey a practical luxury. SOM sought a way to humanize the corporate environment and found a perfect fit with Nakashima, balancing precisely the utility and the style of the furniture.
The Hyatt commission grew to include a significant number of works, many of them ambitious in size, including tables, benches, and credenzas. These pieces, made of solid walnut, are joined with Nakashima's iconic butterfly keys and feature the design house's characteristic freeform edges, thus highlighting the natural beauty of the organic material. Particular emphasis is placed on the exaggeration and extension of the horizontal plane. Mira Nakashima's signature can be found on the underside of each piece in this collection, along with its respective date of completion. In the original design sketches accompanying these works, we see the attention to detail and respect for material so synonymous with the Nakashima name.
The Nakashima family's reverence for the tree's life has been their calling card, and it goes back to their Japanese woodworking roots. Traditional Japanese woodworking includes complex and perfected joinery and the artisan's acceptance and strengthening of the wood's whorls and flaws. The butterfly joints in this suite celebrate the natural beauty of the trees used by stabilizing the inclusions and age-related cracks, allowing the tree to flourish in this new stage of life. The butterflies behave in a way similar to urushi-naoshi: a Japanese restoration technique in which the artisan uses lacquer with gold and silver powder to repair an object. In the same manner, the butterfly joint allows the accident or age-related defect to become beautiful and sophisticated, and remain in use.