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Isamu Noguchi Contemporary Furniture Designs

Updated on May 30, 2016
Noguchi Hardwood & Glass Coffee Table
Noguchi Hardwood & Glass Coffee Table | Source

Welcome to my Isamu Noguchi contemporary furniture design Hub. Here you will learn more about this famous multi cultural and multi disciplinary Japanese-American artist. Having a career that spans over 60 years Isamu Noguchi has designed stage set for famous American modern dancer & choreographer Martha Graham, Public sculptures and landscaping such as the Red Cube in Manhattan and The Garden of Peace at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. While his works spans multiple areas it is his works as a industrial furniture designer which we will be the focus of this Hub.

Inspired by nature and Biomorphism designs, Noguchi has created a range of amazing modernistic artistic and furniture pieces from lamps, tables and Sofa's, Some of which are located in various museums around the worlds such as the Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) in New York and designs such as the popular Noguchi Coffee table are still being reproduced today for sale.

About Isamu Noguchi

Isamu Noguchi was born in 1904 in Los Angeles, California to acclaimed Japanese Poet Yone Noguchi and American Journalist, Editor and English literature teacher Leonie Gilmour.

However Noguchi spent much of his childhood growing up in Japan, and where he established his strong connection with the country's artistic heritage which would influence much of his works later in life. In 1917 he moved back to the United States to begin studies at Columbia University and medical school. However with the encouragement of his mother who wanted to nurture his creative skills Noguchi took night classes at the Leonard da Vinci Art School. Noguchi's talent was soon noticed by his instructor and was invited into the National Sculpture Society which would cermet his career as an artistic.

In 1926 Noguchi received a fellowship from The Guggenheim to study aboard in Paris, there he was hired by Rumanian Sculptor Constantin Brancusi and learnt stone sculpturing in addition to working with other materials from other elite artist he meet during his time.

Then in 1929 Noguchi returned again to the United States and left for New York City where he was also introduced to Buckminster Fuller by Brancusi, and then collaborated on a number of projects including the Dymaxion car. At this time he also met famous American Dancer & choreographer Martha Graham where Noguchi designed ballet sets for her stage productions.

Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988)
Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988) | Source

Having left Asia for a number of years Noguchi returns to Japan again where he was influenced by Buddhist sculptures and Japanese zen gardens, later inspiring his design of The Peace Gardens at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris and the focused more of his works on architectural and garden designs, leading to the creation of a number of public sculptures, foundations, playgrounds and monuments.

After the events of World War 2, Noguchi was inspired by the Surrealist movement and worked with mixed media which included his biomorphic sculpture series. Following which in 1947 Noguchi started working with ionic American furniture manufacturer Herman Miller which lead to the creation of a number of designs that became the symbol of the modernist style, including the classic Noguchi table. Noguchi also worked with Knoll and designed furniture and lamps.

Isamu Noguchi now having amassed a large collection of his own works, in 1985 decided to convert his studio and adjacent buildings into a museum and now known as The Noguchi Museum. Located in Queens (32-37 Vernon Blvd) the museum has a zen garden and contains a collection of 250 pieces of his works over his career providing an ideal introduction to Noguchi's work.

In 2004 Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988) during his 100th year celebration of his works Noguchi was recognized as one of the 20th century's great sculptors joining peers such as Constantin Brancusi, Alexander Calder, Julio Gonzalez and Tony Smith.

The Noguchi Table

Source

This Noguchi Coffee Table was originally designed for the president of The Modern Museum of Art (MoMa) in New York in 1939, and was built from rosewood and glass.The minimalist and elegant natural form of the piece like most of Noguchi's works reminds the worlds of when fine art intersect everyday life. The NoguchiTable is both a work of art and a piece of fine furniture.

The Noguchi Table or Noguchi Coffee Table was later produced in limited runs by famous American furniture manufacture Herman Miller. In the 1947 Herman Miller catalog it described the Noguchi coffee table as "sculpture-for-use" and "design for production".

The original based was constructed of either walnut, birch, and cherry hardwood and from 2016 available in a ebonized finish, walnut, white ash and natural cherry from Herman Miller. Note Herman Miller is the only manufacture of the Noguchi Table which typically range from $500 to over $1000 for various vintage versions. However replicas of the design are available too and are often called "Noguchic style" tables or are stated as Replica pieces of furniture. Below is a wonderful video showing the details of a genuine Noguchi Coffee Table from Herman Miller.

Noguchi Coffee Table Overview

The Noguchi Cyclone Table Collection

While not as popular as the Noguchi Coffee Table, The Cyclone Dinner Table is another ionic sculpture by Noguchi. It was first conceived in 1953 as a rocking stool made of metal wire and wood for Knoll. This playful thing then went through several iterations before evolving into a table companion piece to the Bertoia wire children’s chair. And then late Hans Knoll suggested making a full size version in 1957.

The Cyclone table takes its inspirations from the vortex of a cyclone with the based representing the eye of the storm. The column is made of chrome-plate steel wire set into a cast iron black porcelain-finished footbase. while the tabletop is Birch plywood and available in a black or white laminate finish with a natural Birch wood edge. Genuine versions of the Noguchi Cyclone Table are produced by Knoll and are available in a number of sizes including a smaller side table. Reproductions and replicas also exist but the genuine pieces has the Knoll Studio logo and Isamu Noguchi’s signature stamped on the underside of the tabletop.

A Look at The Noguchi Cyclone Table

Noguchi Akari Light Sculptures & Lamps

Noguchi Akari Light  Sculpture Lamps
Noguchi Akari Light Sculpture Lamps | Source

Isamu Noguchi's Akari lanterns or Light Sculptures

During a visit back to Japan in 1951 Isamu Noguchi visited the town of Gifu known for its manufacturing of japanese lantern & umbrellas from mulberry bark paper and Bamboo. There he was inspired but the lanterns which the fisherman used to illuminate the night while fishing over the Nagara river.

Noguchi's fascination with the lights inspired him to design the first "Akari" lamps using the traditional Gifu methods. The term "Akari" means both light as in illumination but also the idea of weightlessness. The Noguchi's Akari Light Sculptures are constructed of washi paper, bamboo and wires and are a favorite among interior architects. They are available in a variety of colours, shapes and forms, including floor lamps, table lamps and ceiling lamps.

Noguchi was also fond of saying "All that you require to start a home are a room, a tatami, and Akari. "

Noguchi Light Sculptures are still handmade from the original manufacture in Gifu to this day.

The Making of a Noguchi Light Sculpture - Akari Lamps

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