written by:
February 25, 2014

One of the most idiosyncratic artists of the 20th century, Japanese-American designer and sculptor Isamu Noguchi fashioned a future of organic shapes and clean lines, an elegant fusion of trends and traditions. A restless thinker, world traveler and collaborator, Noguchi’s eclectic career covered so much ground, just a fragment—set design with dance icon Martha Graham or his public artworks and sculptures—would make for a distinguished career. Here we examine some of his iconic furniture and interior designs.

Isamu Noguchi's Night Nurse
Zenith Night Nurse (1937)

An early Noguchi side-project encased in then cutting-edge Bakelite, the biomorphic Night Nurse was ostensibly the first baby monitor. Supposedly, the Lindbergh kidnapping inspired Zenith President Eugene F. McDonald Jr. to greenlight development of a listening device for caregivers. The side reads “Designed by Noguchi.” Photo courtesy: Collections of The Henry Ford

1 / 9
Isamu Noguchi's Laminated Wooden Table
Laminated Wooden Table (1941)

 While Noguchi’s other tables are certainly more famous, this unique piece, a gift to Philip L. Goodwin, who designed the MoMA building, showcases the forms and curves found in his sculpture at the time. Photo courtesy of The Noguchi Museum, New York.

2 / 9
Isamu Noguchi Coffee Table
Noguchi Coffee Table (1944)

A Herman Miller classic, modernist icon and Tumblr inspiration, this three-piece table is the epitome of simple, focused design. Initially made in 1939 for MoMA president A Conger. Goodyear, Noguchi’s work in ebonized walnut remains a touchstone. “Even the first table I made for Conger Goodyear was not exactly utilitarian,” he said. “I thought of it as sculpture that was a table. After all, you can say that the earth is a table. We feast upon it. You can also say that it is utilitarian, this earth.” Photo courtesy of The Noguchi Museum, New York.

3 / 9
Isamu Noguchi Rudder Table (1949
Noguchi Rudder Table (1949)

A wooden vessel resting on a pair of metal hairpin legs, this Herman Miller design exhibits a functional finesse and a surf-like, 1950s feel. Reintroduced last year, the tabletop has the same shape as Noguchi’s iconic coffee table. Photo courtesy of The Noguchi Museum, New York.

4 / 9
Isamu Noguchi Akari Light Sculptures (1951)
Akari Light Sculptures (1951)

The mayor of the Japanese town of Gifu asked the famed designer for help—his town’s traditional industry, making paper lanterns, was suffering due to tacky construction. Noguchi’s response was these glowing glowing pieces (the name means both brightness and lightness), that add a modern sensibility to traditional washi paper-and-bamboo construction. Photo courtesy of The Noguchi Museum, New York.

5 / 9
Isamu Noguchi Freeform Sofa
Freeform Sofa (1946)

Noguchi’s fixation on organic shapes is evident in this fluid piece of furniture, a soft, warm and inviting seat with a matching ottoman with matching contours. Photo courtesy of The Noguchi Museum, New York.

6 / 9
Isamu Moguchi Prismatic Table
Prismatic Table (1957)

A crisp, geometric departure from his standard suite of organic forms, Noguchi’s Prismatic Table takes inspiration from origami, resembling a child’s fortune teller cast in aluminum and turned on its head. It came from a commission by Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa). Photo courtesy of The Noguchi Museum, New York.

7 / 9
Isamu Noguchi Cyclone Table
Cyclone Table (1954)

Hans Knoll saw this playful design, initially meant as a stool, and immediately recast it as a chair and set it up with the Bertoia Wire Chair. The eye of the storm is formed with a cylindrical group of metal rods. Photo courtesy of The Noguchi Museum, New York.

8 / 9
Isamu Noguchi Bamboo Chair
Bamboo Chair (1950)

A prototype that was recreated from photos, this lost design came out of a collaboration between Noguchi and Japanese design Isamu Kenmochi. Noguchi laid out the curved metal forms while Kenmochi’s weaving skills led to the flowering base and curved backrest. Photo courtesy of The Noguchi Museum, New York.

9 / 9
Isamu Noguchi's Night Nurse
Zenith Night Nurse (1937)

An early Noguchi side-project encased in then cutting-edge Bakelite, the biomorphic Night Nurse was ostensibly the first baby monitor. Supposedly, the Lindbergh kidnapping inspired Zenith President Eugene F. McDonald Jr. to greenlight development of a listening device for caregivers. The side reads “Designed by Noguchi.” Photo courtesy: Collections of The Henry Ford

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

Modern winery in Central California
An updated California winery captures a prestigious architecture award.
May 03, 2016
back to the garden rhode island cottage small space facade landscaping
Outside Providence, Rhode Island, a little retreat takes up no more space than a standard two-car garage.
May 03, 2016
White staircase with skylight and under-stair storage
With clever storage and a retractable skylight, a London apartment feels larger than its 576 square feet.
May 03, 2016
Off-the-grid prefab in pristine Tasmanian landscape by Misho+Associates.
In Tasmania, an eco-conscious architect builds a vacation home that can stand up to an untamed island.
May 03, 2016
30degree pendants by wrong.london
The Danish design brand never disappoints.
May 02, 2016
practical magic brooklyn renocation kitchen caesarstone countertop stainless steel ikea cabinetes green vola faucet
A creative couple flips the script on their family home, a former workman’s cottage on the northern edge of Brooklyn.
May 02, 2016
history lesson kansas city outdoor backyard facade porch saarinen round table emeco navy chairs
An architect pushes the vernacular architecture of Missouri into the modern realm.
May 02, 2016
mission possible san francisco renovation facade exterior french doors cedar
A dilapidated lot in San Francisco gets a second chance.
May 02, 2016
Eames Demetrios of Kcymaerxthaere
The Eames scion and "geographer-at-large" traverses the globe on behalf of Kcymaerxthaere, a network of markers and monuments that tells fictional tales about real-life communities.
May 02, 2016
marcel breuer architect letter office kansas city snower house
See a glimpse into the office of a master architect.
May 01, 2016
Santa Monica living room with an Yves Klein coffee table
Dwell editor-in-chief Amanda Dameron talks us through Dwell's May 2016 issue.
May 01, 2016
house that sottsass built maui hawaii memphis group home renovation ettore facade colored volumes
In Maui, of all places.
May 01, 2016
two of a kind padua italy matching family homes facade green roof doors color
For Dwell's annual issue dedicated to dream homes , we visited homes from Haiti to Italy. Here, we introduce you to the photographers and writers who made it happen.
April 30, 2016
houseofweek
Every week, we highlight one amazing Dwell home that went viral on Pinterest. Follow Dwell's Pinterest account for more daily design inspiration.
April 30, 2016
W House living room
Our best reader reactions this week.
April 29, 2016
Vineyard house illuminated at night
Rammed-earth construction fuses this Portuguese house to the environment.
April 29, 2016
vintage Scandinavian furniture Kathryn Tyler
In southwest England, interior designer Kathryn Tyler built her home around her ever-expanding furniture collection.
April 29, 2016
steel facade home Seattle
On the sandy shores of Fauntleroy Cove in Seattle, renowned firm Olson Kundig Architects crafts a subtle home with striking steel accents.
April 29, 2016
seperate piece renovated guesthouse eames storage unit cork floor tiles living room
An architect and an interior designer put the tools to the test for this impressive renovation.
April 29, 2016
Ceramics by WrenLab
Manhattan doesn’t get to have all the fun during NYCxDesign. Brooklyn is set for the return of BKLYN DESIGNS at the Brooklyn Expo Center in Greenpoint from May 6-8, 2016. Here are just a few exhibitors we are excited to see this year.
April 29, 2016
n0a6974 dxo
Architect Diego Revollo refreshes an apartment with a standout kitchen.
April 29, 2016
img 8652 1
The city of San Francisco has been eagerly awaiting the reopening of SFMOMA for years—and as the May 14th opening approaches closer everyday, the anticipation continues to build for art enthusiasts both near and far. This morning, we were given the opportunity to explore the newly expanded space before the crowds roll in. After a series of speeches, remarks, and tours, we left the grounds feeling thoroughly inspired and excited to share what we discovered.
April 28, 2016
intage Milo Baughman chairs, Darren Vigilant side table and B&B Italia sofa define the living room.
A family doesn’t have to travel far for a private oasis away from the busy city.
April 28, 2016
Renovation of 1967 Hamburg apartment with Vipp kitchen.
In our April issue, we showcased an apartment in Hamburg, Germany, with a striking, matte-black kitchen from Vipp. The 77-year-old company became famous for its iconic pedal trash can before venturing into kitchens and other tools for the home. This isn't the first time that the Danish company's products have graced our pages, and here we've gathered additional examples from our archive that show how the brand's minimalist black kitchens are always a win in modern interiors.
April 28, 2016
Zafra residence living room.
A man and his wife make an emotional return to an apartment building he loved as a kid.
April 28, 2016
the garden inside concrete dining pavilion indoor outdoor custom cabinets thermador dishwasher refrigerator
A skylit conservatory doubles as a verdant dining parlor in Sonoma County, California.
April 28, 2016
Details of the Calico collection.
Calico Wallpaper founders Nick and Rachel Cope showed us through their home in our March Issue, now step inside their studio.
April 28, 2016
william krisel pow 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
April 27, 2016
Dwell on Design and designjunction at ArtBeam
It's all part of Dwell on Design + designjunction's three-day event, featuring a program of talks chock-full of leading figures in design, architecture, urbanism, and beyond—coming up May 13-15 at ArtBeam in New York.
April 27, 2016
seattles mariners floating house prefab facade exterior fiber cement panels
A prefabricated floating home drops anchor in the Pacific Northwest.
April 27, 2016