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Design classics: Herman Miller Noguchi Table

August 1, 2011

The Noguchi Table manufactured by Herman Miller was designed in the 1940’s and is still in production today so we are delighted to add it to our Design classic series.

Isama Noguchi was born in California in 1904 to a Japanese father and an American mother, and lived in Japan for the first thirteen years of his life.  He then moved to Indiana, and then onto New York where while studying medicine he took the sculpture classes that sealed his future as a designer.

The Noguchi Table was designed during the time he worked for Herman Miller in the 1940’s.  In 1939 Noguchi had designed a table for Conger Goodyear who at the time was the head of the Museum of Modern Art and Herman Miller were so impressed they asked him to design a table that would be suitable for residential and commercial use.  The sculptural elements of the design lead it in been described as ‘sculpture for use’ in the 1947 Herman Miller catalogue.

The table is brilliant in its simplicity and consists of only two elements – a glass top and two interlocking wood legs that are available in 3 wood finishes.  The shape of the legs is suggestive of the simple sculptures of Henry Moore and the natural organic shape sits perfectly well in any contemporary setting, despite been designed over 60 years ago.

The table was in production from 1947 until 1973 when production ceased and it instantly became highly collectible.  Following a limited edition in 1980 it was added to the Herman Miller production line in 1984 and has been in continual demand since.  An original table can be identified as it contains the signature shown below.

If you visit New York there is The Noguchi Museum in Long Island City dedicated to his work.  He moved to this area from Manhattan in the early 1960’s to establish his design studio and in 1974 purchased an industrial building that opened as the museum in 1985.  There is over 24,000 square feet of gallery space and a sculpture gallery – it’s on my list to visit next time I am in NYC.

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