Homage to Four Friends is a one-of-a-kind masterpiece that speaks to the harmonious dialogue and friendship of four of the 20th century’s most influential masters of their field. Proceeds from this lot benefit the Nakashima Foundation for Peace.

From Concept to Realization

The idea behind Homage to Four Friends was conceived of by Thomas Zung, president of Buckminster Fuller, Sadao and Zung Architects, who envisioned a collaborative harmony between the works of Buckminster Fuller, Harry Bertoia, George Nakashima and Isamu Noguchi.  

Original sketch for the work by Thomas Zung

The collaboration was a labor of love that was realized by Buckminster fuller, The Noguchi Foundation, Val Bertoia, Celia Bertoia, Mira Nakashima and Nakashima Studios. The piece includes a Buckminster Fuller Tensegrity Dome and tabletop Sonambient by Val Bertoia set upon a Mira Nakashima Claro Burl tabletop and lit by an Isamu Noguchi Akari lamp.  

Four friends is synergy, the companion word for energy, and prominence endures.

Thomas Zung

Adding to the tribute work, Harry Bertoia’s daughter Celia, had harvested an oak tree that once stood next to the Bertoia studio in Barto, Pennsylvania. The planks were delivered to Mira Nakashima in hope that a tribute to Bertoia might come from them; Homage to Four Friends made this a reality. Nakashima designer-woodworker, Vaishu Ilankamban used the planks from the Bertoia Oak to create a base for the work and through which the Sonambient would resonate. 

Ilankamban explains her contribution: 

The idea for the base was to create a structure so that the sound from the Sonambient Bertoia sculpture could resonate through, and even create a subtle physical vibration. The triangulation of coopered, tapered forms provides immense strength for a relatively small footprint, and spoke to the geometry of both the Tensegrity Dome and Sound Sculpture, balancing the organic Claro Burl top on the figured Bertoia Oak.  There was just enough Oak to create a five-sided shape, two of the pieces book-matched and one with a butterfly to stabilize the bark pocket, a challenge because of the hardness and density of the wood. Once the height and width of the base was determined, some simple trigonometry was needed to determine the slope angle, and then slightly more complex trigonometry to figure out the miter.  A jig was made to hold each piece at repeatable angles, allowing each piece to be cut with compound angles before gluing together. A special tension cleat was designed and created to secure the top to the base with no visible joinery.

Finally, Jaysond Neill, another Nakashima designer, found cordless LED lighting components allowing the Akari to suspend above the work without cords.