The oeuvre of Japanese-American artist and designer Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988) is unusually multi-faceted. In addition to sculptures, he also created stage sets, furniture, lighting and interiors, as well as outdoor plazas and gardens. As a sculptor, his interest was not restricted to materials and form, but also extended to spatial effects and interior designs. Noguchi intended his art to serve both practical and social functions, and his sculptural style exerted a lasting influence on the idiom of organic design in the 1950s.
In 1951 Isamu Noguchi began to design the Akari Light Sculptures, works characterised by weightless luminosity. He chose the name 'akari' for these objects, a word that means 'light' in Japanese, connoting both illumination and physical lightness. During a journey to Japan, Noguchi paid a visit to Gifu, a town known for its manufacture of paper parasols and lanterns. While there he sketched his first two Akari Light Sculptures, and over the following years he created a total of more than 100 models, consisting of table, floor and ceiling lamps ranging in size from 24 to 290 cm.
Each luminaire is meticulously crafted by hand in the Ozeki workshop, a traditional family-run company based in Gifu. In a first step, bamboo rods are stretched across the original wooden forms designed by Noguchi to make the framework that determines the object's shape. Washi paper, derived from the bark of the mulberry tree, is cut in strips to fit the size and shape of the lamp and then glued to the bamboo ribbing. After the glue has dried, the wooden form is removed and the shade can be folded. The Akari Light Sculptures are packed for shipping or storage in flat boxes developed especially for the luminaires.
The Akari Light Sculptures are marked with a stylised sun-and-moon logo, which also resembles the corresponding Japanese characters. This symbol guarantees the authenticity of each product.
||Isamu Noguchi, born in 1904 in Los Angeles to the Japanese poet Yone Noguchi and the American writer Leonie Gilmour, studied at Columbia University and the Leonardo da Vinci Art School. He subsequently established his first independent studio and received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1927. Noguchi became an assistant to Constantin Brancusi in Paris and presented his first solo exhibition in New York. After studying brush drawing in China, he travelled to Japan to work with clay under the master potter Jinmatsu Uno. His experiences living and working in different cultural circles are reflected in Isamu Noguchi's work as an artist. He is considered a universal talent with a creative oeuvre that went beyond sculpture to encompass stage sets, furniture, lighting, interiors as well as outdoor plazas and gardens. His sculptural style is indebted to a vocabulary of organic forms and exerted a sustained influence on the design of the 1950s. 'My Father, Yone Noguchi is Japanese and has long been known as an interpreter of the East and West, through poetry. I wish to do the same thing through sculpture', he wrote in his proposal for a Guggenheim Fellowship. Isamu Noguchi died in New York in 1988.|