about Isamo Noguchi

ISAMU NOGUCHI (1904 – 1988)

Isamu Noguchi was born in Los Angeles on November 17, 1904 as the son of Leonie Gilmour, an American writer, and the Japanese poet Yone Noguchi.  

From 1907 to 1918, when he was a child, Isamu Noguchi lived in Japan. At the age of 14 he went back to the United States on his own in order to finish his education at the “Interlaken College” in Indiana. After he had graduated from college, he lived with the sculptor “Gutzon Borglum” for one summer. Then, in 1923, Noguchi started to study medicine at the Columbia University in New York. It was only in 1924 that he started to take evening courses at the “Leonardo Da Vinci Art School” after his mother had come back to New York and had encouraged him to go there.

Two Years later Isamu Noguchi abandoned his medical studies and became a sculptor. In 1927 Noguchi received a scholarship from the „Guggenheim Foundation“ and as an assistant lived with and learnt from Constantin Brancusi in Paris for one year.



Later Isamu Noguchi traveled through China and Japan: he studied Japanese brush drawing and Chinese pottery. Back in the United States Noguchi designed sculptures, monuments, playgrounds and stage settings for a theatre.

It was only in the 1940s that Isamu Noguchi designed his first furniture and lamps. In 1944 he designed the table lamp “Lunar” for  Knoll International – a lamp that evolved from a light sculpture made of paper. In 1951 he designed “Akari”, a paper lamp made of specially produced Japanese paper. Until his death Isamu Noguchi added one design to the “Akari Series” every year.

Isamu Noguchi´s most famous furniture design is the so-called “Coffee-Table“ from 1945: the glass top of this table seems to float on a sculpture made of wood. When asked about his designs Isamu Noguchi said: “Function was only the beginning for me. My target was always to create art in it’s interrelation with life.”  

Isamu Noguchi died in New York in 1988.