Famous works: Akari lamps, The Noguchi Museum, sculptures like: Octetra, Black Sun, architectural works like: Heiwao Bridge, West Peace Bridge, ”The Cry” sculpture exhibited at the Guggenheim.
Education: Columbia University, Leonardo da Vinci Art School.
The Japanese-American designer, artist, and sculptor Isamu Noguchi was a creative talent. He created everything from scenography, ceramics, and sculptures to furniture and lamps. His results were both traditional and modern while his modern approach to design set new artistic standards. In 1927, at the age of just 23, his unique artistic ability landed him a Guggenheim grant.
In New York, he saw an exhibition by the Romanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi. He was inspired to work with modernism and abstraction and brought his grant to Paris, where he worked as Brancusi’s assistant. He later presented his first solo exhibit in New York, but his versatile artistic talent didn’t have its US breakthrough until 1940, when he designed a very large Isamu Noguchi sculpture. The sculpture symbolised freedom of the press and is now found by the Rockefeller Center in New York.
Isamu Noguchi lamps While travelling the world, Isamu learnt about different materials and ways to express himself. He worked with marble in Italy, studied brush painting in China, and learnt how to work with clay in Japan, with the ceramicist Jinmatsu Uno. On top of shape and material, he was also interested in the impact of his designs on the room at large. He didn’t want his designs to just be practical—he also wanted them to serve a social purpose in interior design.
His designs were characterised by his sculptural style and the organic shapes that would end up influencing designs of the 1950s. In early 1951, he started designing light sculptures that he named Akari, which means “light” in Japanese. The sculptures were defined by their volume and organic expression. Paired with the thin Shoji paper that was used for lanterns and paper umbrellas in Japan, the lamps achieved an elegant and near-weightless expression similar to the one we know from traditional rice paper lamps. Having designed more than 100 Akari lamps, he created a collection with a pendant, table lamp, and floor lamp in different sizes.
These days, the collection comprises more than 40 models, all of which are created in collaboration with the successful brand Vitra. The handmade lamps are available in various shapes and sizes—some in their purest form, others with graphic illustrations. The common thread woven through the entire collection is the robust Shoji paper that dims the light and hides the light source while bathing the surroundings in an even, comfortable glow.