Paul Tanaka is a self-taught designer-maker working and living in Ames, Iowa. After thirty-two years of practicing law he retired in 2016 to expand his skills in designing and crafting furniture.
Until recently, he worked out of garage and basement shops. In 2020, he opened a shop attached to his home where he works daily.
Paul’s design sensibility derives from family and history. He grew up in Denver, in a home where the dominant aesthetic was mid-century modern. His father was trained as an architect and urban planner. Though ties to Japanese culture were attenuated because of the family’s internment during the second world war, and resettlement in Colorado, the Japanese aesthetic was ever-present. During his attendance in school in the Pacific Northwest during the late ‘70s, the region’s craft furniture culture fostered the hope that one day he could turn his focus to designing and building furniture.
Mid-century modern principles of rationality, utility and function remain core values. However, in the past several years recent interests in carving, bending and lighting design have resulted in greater freedom of form and a migration to a broader sense of function.
- Ames, IA
- Wood, lighting
- Professional Status
- Member until Dec 3, 2020