Standing at an impressive 63cm tall, the Vitra Akari 20N Table Lamp works just as well as a modest floor lamp as it does a tabletop centrepiece, and is full of character. Noguchi designed the first of his much-celebrated range of Akari Light Sculptures in 1951, and the series has gone on to become a perennial favourite of design aficionados around the world.
Much of the appeal of the Akari series comes from the hand-made qualities of the piece, with the complete range to this day still made in Gifu, Japan by master craftspeople.
Isamu Noguchi was an American-Japanese designer who originally trained as a sculptor and brought a sculptural sensibility to everything he created: lighting, furniture, gardens and stage sets. He studied sculpture, after dropping out of medical school, in late 1920s New York and then in Paris as an assistant to Constantin Brancusi.
Noguchi designed a range of paper Akari lights throughout the 1950s and 1960s, alongside the popular organic furniture he made in curvy sculpted wood now part of the Vitra Collection, such as the Freeform Sofa and Coffee Table. He was equally prolific as a landscape architect; he recreated the ancient Buddhist stone gardens he had loved in Kyoto at Lever House in New York (1951), UNESCO in Paris (1951), the Yale campus (1960) and Jerusalem’s Israel Museum (1960).