i remember hearing about this as well. and it's important to remember that furniture goes through fashionable periods. nakashima was NEVER inexpensive, but at one point it was upper-middle-class affordable. sadly, those days are long gone.
late to the Nakashima thread, but an exhibition of his work at the Japan America museum in LA about 10 years ago is still one of the high points in my art appreciation. it's hard to explain, and you don't really get it from photos, but there is a rhythm and a purity to his pieces. it's the kind of ultra-simple where there is not one single thing out of place. thank god i can't afford it.
i agree. and generally, servers don't notice the difference between "A" tips and "A-minus" (or B-plus or even B-minus) tips. They only notice the extremes. if you're really generous or if you're a real asshole. furthermore, the work that has been done academically on this has found that tips really don't affect performance very much at all.