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Isamu Noguchi

October 03, 2017

Isamu Noguchi

The prominent Japanese-American sculptor and landscape architect Isamu Noguchi whose artistic career stretched six decades created the modernist, eye-catching Noguchi Table (1947; Ysa Coffee Table) by riffing off his own previous creation. In the talented artist’s 1968 autobiography, A Sculptor’s World, he revealed that he had been asked by furniture designer Robsjohn-Gibbings to do a coffee table to which Noguchi came up with a small plastic model. Noguchi didn’t hear from the English designer until his internment in a concentration camp in Arizona during World War II- where he saw a published version of his plastic model in an advertisement. When he protested this on his return, Robsjohn-Gibbings retorted that anybody could make a three-legged table. “In revenge,” Noguchi said, “I made my own variant of my own table.” The resulting stunning glass-topped Noguchi Table is both art and furniture, with a solid wood carved base that consists of two interlocked inverted identical parts. Its biomorphic form encapsulated in just three pieces is at once delicate and perfectly balanced. In fact, the Noguchi Table is extremely durable. When production of the table was discontinued in 1973, it instantly became a collectible. Two Noguchi Tables (one in natural birch and another in ebonized birch) are on display in New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

His Freeform Sofa (1946; Clifton I Lounge Sofa with Ottoman and Clifton II Lounge Sofa with Ottoman) also realizes Noguchi’s artistic sensibilities with its original, statement-making look. It went into limited production in 1950. The open, scaled and organic forms of the sofa and matching ottoman resemble pebbles and work in combination. That coupled with appealing colours and low beech wood legs make the Freeform Sofa a distinctively softer type of modernist style in the twentieth century.

Noguchi’s Cyclone Dining Table (1957; Helix Dining Table) evolved from its initial concept until it first became a children’s table designed as a companion piece for the Bertoia wire children’s chair then finally the full-size dining table with unique base that we know it as today. The base has chrome-plated steel wireworks on a cast-iron circular doughnut foot.

The Noguchi Museum, designed and created by Noguchi, houses his works and is open all year round.

The items shown above are replicas.

View all of our Isamu Noguchi-inspired products in our Modern Classics collection

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