Famous american coffee table - the Noguchi Table

The most famous american coffee table is almost 70 years old and was designed by an american artist. It is called Noguchi coffee table, it is produced by Herman Miller and sells for about $1400.

The Noguchi coffee table, often called a cocktail table, is nothing like the ordinary low table we see in the average american house or office.

It is simple and stylish but made to blend in the surroundings, it is strong but not bulky, it is clean but sophisticated, it is not a piece of furniture but a piece of art that now, you can use it to put your feet on when you watch TV.

Noguchi Coffee Table

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The Noguchi Coffee Table Look


The Noguchi coffee table is made out of three elements, two legs and a top. The legs are shaped like canoes. One is upside down. They connect in a single joint point. The top is a triangle made out of a glass, three quarters of an inch thick. The arrangement is looking like an upsidedown lake with calm waters and still canoes.

Like stones in a japanese garden, all elements of the table balance together in a harmonious piece. The wooden legs have sweet curves and the triangle glass top has rounded corners.

Who makes the Noguchi Coffee Table


The design of the Noguchi table that sells today in US and Europe was perfected by the artist in 1944. Three years later, the Herman Miller company started to produce the table for sale. The intriguing but beautiful piece a furniture captured the public interest. The fact that was designed by an artist who has just been recognized among elites added to the picture.

Herman Miller, who has the rights for the original design, has produced the table ever since, with a little interruption between 1973-1984. The table is sold by authorized dealers and you can find a list of them here.

For European market, the table is made by Vitra Design Museum, since 2002.


Authenticity


Today you can buy the table from many sellers. The price should be equal if not higher than the manufacturer price. But if you find it for less, you have to make sure the piece you buy is authentic. Because there are many copies of the Noguchi table.

The Noguchi coffee table has three marks of authenticity. According with the manufacturer’s web site, the buyers should look for two “seals of approval”, the signature of the artist etched on the long side of the glass top (introduced in 2003), and a medallion on the base that hides another signature of Isamu Noguchi.

The signature of the artist

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Technical details


The coffee table is very durable. Almost all the tables that have been made have survived. The wood doesn’t crack and the great thickness of the top glass makes it almost unbreakable. It is designed to support a great weight. The type of wood that the base is made of was changed few times over the years. At first, the legs were made out of cherry wood. And this type of table, with a cherry base, is very collectible. Later, between 1947 and 1955, the table was offered in birch. Today, most tables have a walnut base (made out of walnut) or ebonized walnut (made out of poplar with black stain). A very new addition is Noguchi table with a white ash base.

Only the table produced before 1965 are considered true vintage. On that year, Herman Miller company made two small alteration to the original design: they decreased the thickness of the glass top from 7/8 of an inch to 3/4 inch and the height of the table increased from 15 inches to 15 3/4 inches.

A little history


Isamu Noguchi made his first coffee table in 1930 as a gift for the president of Museum of Modern Art, Conger Goodyear. It is said that he was challenged by another artist that said that anyone can make a three legged coffee table. Later on, around 1940, Noguchi changed the design of the original table to what is today. He said that the Coffee Table is the best among his furniture pieces, which include the Akari Lamp and the Rocking Chair.

Noguchi Coffee Table is a piece of art that has the functionality of a piece of furniture as well. It is well suited for any kind of environment but often used in living rooms of private homes as coffee table or cocktail table. Also, it can be found in the waiting rooms of offices. The table is unique and the money one may pay to have it are well invested.

Watch the Noguchi Coffee Table in a home, from different angles

The Rocking Chair

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Isamu Noguchi short biography


Isamu Noguchi is an american artist born in 1904, son of Yone Noguchi, a japanese poet and Leonie Gilmour, an american writer.

He took sculpture classes at the Leonardo Da Vinci Art School in New York. Also, in his early years spent in Paris, he worked with Constantin Brancusi for seven months.
He was a sculptor and designer and his works can be seen in the United States and Japan, and also in Mexico and Israel. Among his public works are The Marble Garden, for Beinecke Rare Books and Manuscript Library at Yale University, Connecticut, and The Sunken garden, for Chase Manhattan Bank Plaza, in New York. He also created a sculpture garden for The Israel Museum in Jerusalem and a playground in Japan, near Tokyo.
Isamu Noguchi died in 1988.

The Akari lamp

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Other famous furniture designed by Noguchi:

Akari Lamp

The rocking Chair

a reproduction with a red base, sold for less on Amazon

Isamu Noguchi Coffee Tables, reproductions

Need to see more coffee tables?

Clikc to read about Eero Saarinen tulip collection.

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Comments 6 comments

RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

Such an interesting and useful piece of art! Beautiful--thanks for this look at the the Noguchi coffee table and the other pieces. Wouldn't it be wonderful to see his sculpture garden in Israel and Japan's playground?!


cameciob profile image

cameciob 4 years ago Author

Hi, RTalloni. Thanks for stopping and commenting. I wished at least I could see one of Noguchi public work in the US as well. Maybe one day. But there are some hubbers that live close and they may take a photo or two.


Oakfurnituresol profile image

Oakfurnituresol 4 years ago from Bristol

This is a really interesting hub, its nice to see so much research and history that's gone into the subject matter. What an amazing table too!


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 3 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

I have always loved this table. And living here in NYC I visited the Noguchi Museum in Queens - wonderful! And sitting in the sculpture garden I was just so soothed. There is a gift shop where you can buy many different styles of the lamp. I am a fan.

Thanks so much!


cameciob profile image

cameciob 3 years ago Author

BkCreative, I envy you for visiting the Noguchi museum. I think the man was a wizard. Thanks for sharing.


cameciob profile image

cameciob 3 years ago Author

Oakfurniture, between me and this table was love at first sight. Unfortunately, I don't own one yet. Thank you for your kind words.

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