Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988) was one of the twentieth century’s most important and critically acclaimed sculptors. Through a lifetime of artistic experimentation, he created sculptures, gardens, furniture and lighting designs, ceramics, architecture, and set designs. His work, at once subtle and bold, traditional and modern, set a new standard for the reintegration of the arts.
“All that you require to start a home are a room, a tatami, and Akari.”
With the warm glow of light cast through hand-made paper on a bamboo frame, Isamu Noguchi utilized traditional Japanese materials to bring modern design to the home.
Like the beauty of falling leaves and the cherry blossom, Noguchi wrote, Akari are “poetic, ephemeral, and tentative.” And he was fond of saying, “All that you require to start a home are a room, a tatami, and Akari. ”
Noguchi Floor Lamp, Model 14A. Currently available at Modele’s.
The Making of Akari Light Sculpture
The fabrication of Akari in Japan at Ozeki Company since 1951 follows the traditional methods for Japanese Gifu lanterns. Each Akari is hand crafted beginning with the making of washi paper from the inner bark of the mulberry tree. Bamboo ribbing is stretched across wooden molded forms, which resembles sculpture.
The washi paper is cut into wide or narrow strips depending upon the size and shape of the lamp and then glued onto both sides of the framework. Once the glue has dried and the shape is set the internal wooden form is disassembled and removed. The outcome is a resilient paper form, which can be collapsed and packed flat for shipping. The Akari package includes Noguchi’s patented metal wire stretcher and support system.
A genuine Akari light will have a stamped red sun and half moon with Japan written under the symbol on the shade. Next to the symbol will be the signature “I. Noguchi”. The lamps age gracefully due to the quality of the paper.