Timeless – Akari Light Series by Isamu Noguchi

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Welcome to our TIMELESS series that delves into the world of design classics – the timeless objects that have captured our hearts and minds through the years. In this collection of articles, we’ll explore the stories behind these iconic creations, celebrating the designers who dared to push boundaries and redefine what it means to craft enduring beauty. With a keen eye for detail and an unwavering appreciation for exceptional design, we’ll take you on a journey through the ages, examining how these exquisite pieces have managed to transcend trends, remaining relevant and beloved in a constantly changing world.

Join us as we embark on this captivating voyage, immersing ourselves in the rich history, creative processes, and unique materials that define these masterpieces. Through our exploration, we’ll unveil the secrets of these timeless treasures, offering you a fresh perspective on the remarkable ingenuity and craftsmanship that lie at the heart of these cherished objects. Whether you’re a design aficionado or a curious enthusiast, this series promises to enlighten, inspire, and spark your imagination as we uncover the stories of the design classics that have truly stood the test of time.

The AKARI Light Series

As we venture into the world of iconic design, one cannot overlook the remarkable contributions of Japanese-American artist and designer, Isamu Noguchi. Among his many creations, the Akari Light Sculptures stand out as an exquisite example of timeless design, effortlessly blending modern aesthetics with craftsmanship.

The birth of Akari Light Sculptures can be traced back to 1951 when Isamu Noguchi embarked on a journey to Japan, aiming to incorporate the beauty of traditional Japanese culture into his creations. It was in Gifu, a city renowned for its paper lanterns, that Noguchi’s vision came to life. Inspired by the gentle glow of lanterns adorning the streets, he sought to create a series of light sculptures that would bring the same sense of warmth and tranquility into homes around the world.

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Isamu Noguchi’s creative process was deeply rooted in his unwavering pursuit of innovation and the seamless integration of art and function. The design journey of the Akari Light Sculptures is a prime example of Noguchi’s commitment to these principles, while also showcasing his genuine appreciation for the beauty and craftsmanship inherent in traditional Japanese culture.

When Noguchi visited the city of Gifu, he was captivated by the centuries-old tradition of crafting paper lanterns. The artisanal skill involved in creating these lanterns, made from washi paper and bamboo, struck a chord with Noguchi, inspiring him to incorporate these elements into his own design. He saw an opportunity to not only pay homage to this rich cultural heritage but also to elevate and reinterpret it for a contemporary audience.

Noguchi worked closely with local artisans, learning the delicate craft of shaping washi paper over bamboo ribbing, a skill that has been passed down through generations. This collaborative approach allowed Noguchi to create a harmonious blend of traditional craftsmanship and his own artistic vision, resulting in a truly unique lighting solution.

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Noguchi’s choice of materials was not only a nod to the cultural roots of his design but also a deliberate decision to achieve a specific aesthetic effect. The washi paper, with its inherent translucency, allowed for the diffusion of light, creating a warm, gentle glow reminiscent of the Gifu lanterns that had originally inspired him. The use of bamboo, a material known for its strength and flexibility, enabled Noguchi to create a variety of shapes and forms, resulting in an extensive collection of designs that catered to different tastes and settings.

Through the Akari Light Sculptures, Isamu Noguchi demonstrated his ability to merge the past and the present, art and functionality, in a single, cohesive design. By embracing traditional Japanese craftsmanship and infusing it with his own creative vision, Noguchi was able to craft a series of timeless lighting solutions that have transcended trends and continue to captivate design enthusiasts to this day.

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Many thanks to the Noguchi Foundation for the photography seen here.