Prolific Japanese design studio nendo has created this range of table lamps inspired by paper light sculptures of renowned artist and landscape architect Isamu Noguchi.
Nendo based its Light Fragment collection on Noguchi’s Akari lighting series, which he created in 1951 on a visit to Gifu – a town in Japan known for its manufacture of paper parasols and lanterns.
Many of the sculptures by Noguchi were carved directly from stone, thus he regarded Akari more as luminescent sculptures, rather than lighting equipment.
“We imagined, what if Akari had been carved directly from a massive form of light?” explained Nendo. “It gave us an idea that the fragments from the carved stone should be beautifully luminous.”
The first step of the creation process was to carefully hand-carve white acrylic boards gradationally, from opaque to translucent, until it ultimately became extremely thin and transparent. Then, the fragments have been enveloped as if they were floating inside a transparent acrylic cube, and by lighting these pieces externally, “light-fragments” were represented.
The concept of the Akari was to bring natural light into living spaces, and the corresponding Japanese character of 明(akari, light) is made up of two kanji elements, 日 (hi, sun) and 月 (tsuki, moon). This lamp replicates the relationship between the sun and the moon, the sun is the source of light, and fragments receiving the light. Since the sun cannot be seen when the moon is shining, it is designed so that the source of light is not exposed.
Leaning across the transparent acrylic is an 8mm aluminum pipe, LED lights are aligned inside and diffused to minimize their unevenness, this narrow channel of light is intended to concentrate the light into the acrylic, illuminating only the cube. Lastly, black was selected for the lamp legs, and a round black cap was put at the end to evoke the iconic Akari wire legs.
Nendo’s Light Fragment collection is among 29 works created by Paris-based design studio Ymer&Malta in collaboration with six contemporary designers in homage to Noguchi’s mid-century Akari collection. The pieces are currently on show at the Noguchi Museum in Queens, New York as part of an exhibition titled Akari Unfolded: A Collection by Ymer&Malta.
On show at the Noguchi Museum until 27 January 2019, the showcase also features Akari-inspired lamps created by Sebastian Bergne, Stephen Burks, Océane Delain, Benjamin Graindorge and Sylvain Rieu-Piquet who have worked with linen, metal, resin, Plexiglas, concrete, and paper.
all images © Kenichi Sonehara