Vitra Akari Light Sculptures

In 1951 Japanese-American artist and designer Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988) began to design the Akari Light Sculptures. In a visit to his ancestral home, Noguchi stopped in Gifu; a town famous for its paper-based manufacturing of lanterns and parasols. It was in Gifu that Noguchi first conceptualised the early Akari Lamps, starting with just two designs, before going on to create more than 100 distinct table lamps, floor lights and ceiling lamps.

The name ‘akari’ - Japanese for ‘light’ - was chosen for this range of lamps as it could convey not only its practical function but also the delicacy of form which was so important for Noguchi to instil in his creations.

To this day, the Akari lights are hand-crafted in the traditional, family-run Ozeki workshop based in Gifu. The design process is meticulous; first bamboo rods are stretched across the original wooden forms designed by Noguchi, providing the framework that determines the shade’s shape. Then, authentic Japanese Shoji paper, derived from the bark of the mulberry tree, is cut into strips and glued onto the bamboo rods. Once dry, the wooden frame is removed and the shade can be manipulated into place.

Vitra Akari Lights are packaged using bespoke flat boxes which have been developed specifically for the shades. Each Akari light’s authenticity is guaranteed by the marking of a stylised sun and moon logo, designed to resemble the corresponding Japanese characters.