Isamu Noguchi sculptural design – more than just lighting The Japanese-American artist and designer Isamu Noguchi started designing light sculptures in 1951, and he named these Araki, which means ‘light’ in Japanese. Noguchi was intent on creating works that served practical and social purposes. On a trip to Japan, he visited Gifu—a city known for their exhibitions of lanterns and paper parasols—and this is when he drew the first sketches for the Akari light sculptures. In the years that followed, he created more than 100 models, comprising pendants, floor, table, and ceiling lamps ranging 24 to 290 cm.
Ever since Isamu Noguchi first designed the Akari Light sculpture, these have been made by hand at the Ozeki workshop in Gifu, Japan. It takes around six hours to manufacture one lamp, and it’s all done by the best Japanese artisans out there. The crossed bamboo branches are assembled to create a template for the lamp, then the paper is carefully glued onto this wooden frame. One piece at a time, so it’s perfect. Once the glue has dried, the frame is removed, and the lampshade can be folded and shipped in flat boxes.