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.
Isamu Noguchi sculptural design – more than just lighting The sculptural lamp appears original yet traditional. The modern light source lights up the traditional craftsmanship and highlights the lamp’s natural shape. The Akari lamps can neither be defined as functional products nor as art, instead lying somewhere in the middle. When the light shines through the delicate paper, it bathes the room in a warm and comfortable glow that lends the surroundings a sense of inviting calm. In other words, the lamps don’t just add light to the room, they bring a relaxing atmosphere to any style of interior design.