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Coffee table - Noguchi Table
  • Noguchi Table
    Isamu Noguchi, born 1904 - died 1988
  • Enlarge image

Noguchi Table

  • Object:

    Coffee table

  • Place of origin:

    Zeeland, Michigan (Produced)

  • Date:

    1947 (designed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Isamu Noguchi, born 1904 - died 1988 (designer)
    Herman Miller Furniture Co (manufacturer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Birch wood and glass

  • Museum number:

    W.1:1, 2-2010

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

Two pivoting and identical wooden forms are arranged inversely to one another and joint only at one relatively narrow point, carrying a thick and heavy glass top. The shape of each supporting element is irregular but straight in plan, while the top is a irregular oval which sits on but is not fixed to the base.

Place of Origin

Zeeland, Michigan (Produced)

Date

1947 (designed)

Artist/maker

Isamu Noguchi, born 1904 - died 1988 (designer)
Herman Miller Furniture Co (manufacturer)

Materials and Techniques

Birch wood and glass

Dimensions

Width: 127.5 cm, Depth: 91.5 cm, Height: 39.5 cm

Object history note

This table is probably the best know piece of furniture by the Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi. Given its sculptural appearance, it is remarkable that the table was mass-produced by the furniture manufacturer Herman Miller. Production ceased at least during the period 1973 to 1983 and possibly before that date, but the table has been in continues production recently for more thirty years.

In his autobiography (Isamu Noguchi, A Sculptor's Word [1968], pp.26-27), Noguchi explains that he designed this table as an act of 'revenge' when the then well-known designer Th. Robsjohn Gibbings told the sculptor that 'anybody could make a threelegged table'. (Noguchi had previously designed, in a scale model form, a coffee table which Rbsjohn Gibbings used in an advertisement without Noguchi's permission.) Noguchi's new design was a variant of a rosewood and glass table in a more complex sculptural form that he described as 'reduced to rudiments'. The table was commissioned by A. Conger Goodyear in 1939. (Goodyear was the founder and first president of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.)

This example is a relatively early version which, owing to its birch base, must have been made between about 1947 and 1955. Noguchi called the table a tripod table.

Although Noguchi claimed he 'was not interested in... - or should I say not capable of- designing anything for manufacture á la mode', he designed a number of highly original tables, including two other designs manufactured by Herman Miller. he is also well known for a series of exquisite paper lanterns which were made in large quantities in Japan and remain in production today.

Historical context note

This table came via a Chicago dealer from a Chicago home of a former manager of the Herman Miller showroom in the Chicago Merchandise Mart.

Descriptive line

Coffee Table, designed by Isamu Noguchi, manufactured by Herman Miller, ca. 1947

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Isamu Noguchi, A Sculptor's Word [1968]
The Life of Isamu Noguchi: Journey without Borders, Masayo Duus, 2006

Production Note

Manufacture of the tabel was ceased between at least the period 1973-1983, and possibly before the first date, but table has been in continuous production for thirty years.

Materials

Birch; Glass

Categories

Furniture

Production Type

Mass produced

Collection

Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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