Isamu Noguchi’s Illuminating Legacy: The Story of Akari


Isamu Noguchi, a Japanese-American sculptor and designer, is responsible for bringing light to the world in an entirely new way. His creation of the Akari collection, a series of paper lanterns inspired by traditional Japanese craft techniques, revolutionized the way we think about lighting design. In this article, we will explore the history, significance, and lasting influence of Noguchi’s Akari lamps.

History of Akari

Isamu Noguchi first encountered traditional Japanese paper lanterns, or “washi,” during a trip to Japan in 1950. Fascinated by their delicate beauty and time-honored craftsmanship, Noguchi began to experiment with different forms, shapes, and sizes of these lanterns. His goal was to create a modern, avant-garde version of the traditional lantern that would encapsulate the multicultural world we live in.

Over the next several years, Noguchi refined his designs and developed a unique construction method that used bamboo and wire frames covered in handmade washi paper. The resulting Akari lamps were lightweight, collapsible, and transportable, making them versatile for any décor or setting.

While their practicality and portability were significant selling points, it was the sheer beauty and artistry of the Akari collection that captured the world’s attention. From the soft, warm glow of the washi paper to the organic, sculptural shapes of the lanterns themselves, everything about the Akari collection was a testament to Noguchi’s talent and creativity.

The Significance of Akari in Lighting Design

The Akari collection was not just a beautiful art piece; it was a revolutionary introduction to the world of lighting design. Before the Akari, lighting fixtures were often heavy, cumbersome, and limited to a few specific designs. The Akari, on the other hand, offered a new level of versatility, playfulness, and artistic expression.

By embracing the flexibility and softness of washi paper, Noguchi was able to break down the boundaries between art and design. The Akari lanterns were not just functional light sources; they were sculptural installations that could enhance and transform any space they occupied. In the words of Noguchi himself, “I wanted to create shapes that were not limited to the usual idea of a lighting fixture.”

Today, the Akari collection remains one of the most iconic and beloved examples of modern lighting design. Its influence can be seen in countless homes, restaurants, art galleries, and museums around the world.

Isamu Noguchi’s Legacy

Isamu Noguchi was a prolific artist and designer whose influence can be seen in almost every aspect of modern culture. From furniture to sculpture to landscape architecture, he was a true visionary whose work transcended traditional boundaries and categories.

The Akari collection is just one example of Noguchi’s enduring legacy. Through his creations, he challenged our perceptions of what art, design, and craftsmanship could be. His work has left a lasting impression on the art world, and his spirit of innovation and experimentation continues to inspire designers today.


Isamu Noguchi’s Akari collection is a testament to the power of creative vision and technical mastery. Through his experimentation with traditional Japanese paper lanterns, he created a lighting collection that was not only beautiful and functional but also a work of art. The Akari collection remains one of the most innovative and influential examples of modern lighting design and has left an everlasting legacy of originality and inspiration.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Next Post

The Vibrant Design of Verner Panton's Væglampe: A Bold Statement in Lighting

Sat Sep 2 , 2023
Introduction In the world of modern interior design, few names are as influential as Verner Panton. Born in Denmark in 1926, Panton made a name for himself in the 1960s and 70s as a pioneer of futuristic, often psychedelic designs in lighting, furniture, and textiles. One of his most iconic […]

You May Like