I read this quote in a furniture catalogue by woodworker George Nakashima: “Ultimately the woodworker’s responsibility is to the tree itself, which has been sacrificed to live again in the woodworker’s hands.” I wanted to know more about Nakashima’s work so went to his website where I learned about him, his family and their act of product creation. There are many lessons on this site that go beyond woodworking. The content engages the visitor by paying homage to the man, materials and craftsmanship. It integrates art, story and e-commerce.
Be Visually Unique & Unexpected
The first thing I notice is how strong the images are of materials, people, sketches, and environments. Like the products produced, the images are unique and telling. I am surprised and pleased to see this unexpected image when I click on Custom Designs.
Tell a Story
On the About Us page is this stated philosophy toward the kind of work they do: “In a world where manual skills are shunned we believe in them, not only in the act of producing a better product, but in the sheer joy of doing or becoming. We feel that pride in craftsmanship, of doing as perfect a job as possible.”
Nakashima’s bio tells the story of a Japanese American born in Spokane, Washington who traveled throughout the world. In 1942 he was sent to the internment camps in Minidoka, Idaho. He moved on to win awards from prestigious organizations including the American Institute of Architects and held shows that inspired generations of architects and designers. He died in 1990.
Position the Product
Nakashima’s book The Soul of a Tree can be purchased on the site. The furniture, inventory, and custom designs are available too and managed by his daughter, Mira. A separate page introduces each facet of the business. The Inventory and Furniture pages look like a catalogue clearly indicating this is e-commerce. The other pages position products as art pieces and “installations”.
Share the Process
Under the Custom Designs menu, processes and finishes are described. How to Set Up an Appointment orients the visitor on working with the company including the sharing of ideas, selection, production and delivery of products.
Invite Visitors to be Part of the Mission
Nakashima’s Foundation of Peace began with his wish to build “Altars of Peace” in each of the seven continents. Three have been completed. Donations are being collected through the Nakashima Foundation for a fourth to be located in South Africa.
The content on this website engages visitors. Better yet, it inspires.