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Noguchi, Isamu

Carroll Gantz
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U.S. sculptor and designer who was born in Los Angeles to Leonie Gilmour, an Irish-American teacher, and Yone Noguchi, a Japanese poet, and spent his childhood in Japan. He returned to the U.S. in 1918 to study medicine, but abandoned it to study at the Leonardo da Vinci Art School in New York, under Onorio Ruotolo (1922-1926). He studied sculpture in Paris (1927-1928) with Constantin Brancusi before making pottery in Kyoto. He returned to the U.S. in 1931, where he built his reputation as a well-known public works sculptor, settling in 1960 in Long Island City, New York, which became the site of the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum after his death. But he periodically turned from his formal abstract and formal garden sculptures to the creation of "things for everybody's enjoyment." His important product designs include the classic 1937 home intercom for the Zenith Radio Company with biomorphic form called the "Radio Nurse"; a series of illuminated wall sculptures, or "Lunars" he developed in the early 1940s, including a 1945 three-legged plastic and wood cylindrical table lamp for Knoll; the classic 1947 glass-topped sculptural coffee table for the Herman Miller Furniture Company, as well as a number of furniture designs for Knoll and Alcoa; and a number of Japanese Akari (meaning "light") paper lamps, including a 1968 hanging lamp for Akari Associates and many other shape variations. Because he neglected to patent many of his highly original and successful postwar designs, they were widely pirated.

100 Years of Design consists of excerpts from a book by Carroll M. Gantz, FIDSA, entitled, Design Chronicles: Significant Mass-produced Designs of the 20th Century, published August 2005 by Schiffer Publications, Ltd.
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