Coastal Style

Modern Icons: Isamu Noguchi's Akari Light Sculptures

Isamu Noguchi was a Japanese American sculptor who utilized a variety of substances and drew inspiration from a range of works across the world. Trips to Japan affected how he looked at light, particularly a visit to Gifu, where he admired lanterns made from mulberry bark paper (washi paper) and bamboo that fishermen used at night. By the time he designed his Akari Light Sculptures line in 1951, his own body of work contained illuminated large-scale sculptures and stage sets for Martha Graham. Within this collection of lights he played contour, Japanese customs, illumination and also the concept of weightlessness. Architects and interior designers are still appreciate his work that is thoughtful; here’s a look at some of these sculptural fittings in houses now.


Table Lamp Model 1AT – $145

The lamps are still hand crafted utilizing the customs Noguchi. In accordance with, bamboo ribbing is stretched across wooden formed forms. Washi paper is cut into wide or narrow strips, depending on the lamp, then glued onto either side of the frame. When the adhesive has dried and the shape is placed, the internal form is disassembled and removed. The result is a resilient paper form that may be packed flat for shipping.


Akari Model 10A Floor Lamp by Isamu Noguchi – $450

The Ozeki Business in Japan has already been crafting Noguchi’s Akari lamps since 1951. It uses the very same methods Noguchi admired in Gifu, such as making the washi paper from the inner bark of the mulberry tree.

Johnson Berman

Section of the aesthetic is simplicity. On the BB1-30XN Table Lamp, a boxy paper color balances atop a slim stem with a rock-like round foundation.

Kristen Rivoli Interior Design

Many bits in Noguchi’s Akari series have been comprised in a permanent museum set, so this set of Table Model 9ADs were an apt choice for this flat, which pays tribute to its immediate neighbor, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Watch the rest of the home

Philpotts Interiors

Floor Lamp Model UF4-L10 is among the largest Noguchi lamps, and, weightlessness comes into play ; a tall stack of rectangular boxes criss crossing four quite slender legs.

Peterssen/Keller Architecture

Another iconic floor lamp is Model UF5/33NW, which adds an organic twist to spaces from midcentury modern to transitional.

Allen Construction

This lamp is a great way to tackle a corner; it enlivens the corner with its height, eye-catching shape and beautiful glow.


This clever homeowner has pushed theModel BB3/33S Floor Lamp from a wall, which makes it a part of a makeup of art.

Watch the rest of this loft

James K Fung

The 1N Table Lamp is flexible enough to perch just about anywhere. This attracts light and sculpture to a radiator. At around $105, it is a relatively inexpensive way to get a functional hand-crafted masterpiece.


In addition to floor and table lamps, Noguchi also seemed overhead to ceiling lighting. This big hanging lantern (Ceiling Lamp Model L3) stands up to the scale of a high ceiling.

Mark Ashby Design

This is actually the 15A Pendant Lamp. Notice how the photographer written this shot with the pendant framed by the vaulted ceiling supporting it.

Skylab Architecture

This shot lets us get a close look at the complex ribbing of this lamp’s construction.

This is merely a sampling of dozens and dozens of Noguchi’s Akari Light Sculptures; should you enjoy what you see, I highly suggest browsing the whole collection. There are a number of imitations out there, so understand that each genuine Akari model has a stamped red sun and half moon with “Japan” written beneath the symbol on the color, and alongside the symbol is the Noguchi signature.

See related