[Image, Naomi Finlay]
In the current issue of Covet Garden, Paul’s house is chock-full of amazing art and furnishings. We always ask our featured householders what their favourite pieces are, and the answer is usually something along the lines of “asking me that is like asking me to choose my favourite child.”
Paul did narrow it down a little, telling us that the George Nakashima couch and the T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings coffee table in his living room were “sort of my pride and joy on the furnishings front.” Both of these pieces were created for the Widdicomb Furniture Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Founded in 1858, in the 1950s and ’60s, the company was instrumental in introducing modern design ideas to the North American public.
[Nakashima for Widdicomb sofa via Downtown Gallery]
British-born architect and furniture maker Robsjohn-Gibbings actually worked as head designer for Widdicomb in the 1940s and ’50s.
Even though his tastes ran toward Greek classicism, his elegant, uncluttered aesthetic was sympathetic to ideas coming out of Scandinavia —Robsjohn-Gibbings’ works for Widdicomb famously featured warm blond wood and tapered, functional shapes. Paul’s low-slung coffee table with its inset caning is a perfect example of a piece from this period.
[Nakashima Origins for Widdicomb Chair via Modernism]
[T. H. Robsjohn-Gibbings for Widdicomb Dining Table via Viyet]
Robsjohn-Gibbings left Widdicomb and America to live in Greece. George Nakashima who produced the “Origins Group” for the firm took up his forward furniture approach the late 1950s and early ’60s. Inspired by his International style training but married with his Japanese and Shaker influences, Nakashima’s collection of bedroom and dining room sets and occasional pieces.
Nakashima was born and raised in Spokane, Washington where he developed a deep love of the forests of the Pacific Northwest. He believed that all design, architecture and sculpture had an origin, no matter how distanced, in nature.
Both designers prized function above all else. Which is why this couch and coffee table fit into Paul’s life so wonderfully.
[T. H. Robsjohn-Gibbings for Widdicomb buffet, Model 1671, 1950 via 1st Dibs]