About Isamu Noguchi (Designer)
Sculptor, painter, ceramicist and furniture and lighting designer, Isamu Noguchi was one of the most prolific and protean creative forces of the 20th century and a key figure in the development of organic modernism. Noguchi’s sculptures and designs share a common spirit: one of lyrical abstraction, tempo and flow and harmonious balance.
Noguchi was born in Los Angeles to an American mother and Japanese father, and spent most of his childhood in Japan. He returned to the United States at age 13, went to high school in Indiana and enrolled at Columbia University to study medicine. At the same time, he took night courses in sculpture. Within three months, he left college to pursue art full time. Noguchi was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1927 and traveled to Paris to work under Constantin Brancusi. It marked a turning point. Inspired by Brancusi, Noguchi embraced abstraction and began to sculpt in the expressive, rhythmic style that would be the hallmark of his work.
Once back in New York, Noguchi was introduced to design by what would become a lifelong collaboration creating sets for choreographer Martha Graham. His first industrial designs were in Bakelite: a sleek clock-timer created circa 1932, and his famed Zenith Radio Nurse intercom, from 1937. Ten years later, Herman Miller introduced Noguchi’s now-iconic glass-topped coffee table with an articulated wooden base. His washi paper and bamboo Akari Light Sculptures, handmade in Japan, debuted in 1951. In the late 1950s, Noguchi designed for Knoll, creating such pieces as his dynamic Cyclone table and rocking stool. For collectors, Noguchi’s furniture and light designs remain his most accessible work. As you will see on these pages, they have the same power and presence that Noguchi brought to his art.