Founded by one of 20thcentury’s most renowned sculptors, Isamu Noguchi, the Noguchi Museum is located in Queens, New York, displaying representative examples of his work. The “Akari Unfolded” exhibition featured works of 6 modern designers that gathered in homage to the Akari collection. Fabricated from handmade washi paper and bamboo, Akari is one of the most renowned works of Isamu Noguchi.

Many of the sculptures by Noguchi were carved directly from stone, thus he regarded Akari more as luminescent sculptures, rather than lighting equipment. Inspired by these facts, we imagined what if Akari had been carved directly from a massive form of light. 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.

Akari is a registered trademark of ©The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, New York / ARS.

The Noguchi Museum + YMER&MALTA
Sayaka Ito
Tjeerd te Dorsthorst
Kenichi Sonehara