Down near the edge of Western Queens, where Astoria meets Long Island City at the waterfront, sits The Noguchi Museum, dedicated to the work of Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988), a major figure of mid-century art and design. His iconic sculptures, akari lamps, and that biomorphic glass coffee table – mere examples from his full œuvre - endure in their influence and significance. And you can take home some of his designed pieces at the The Noguchi Museum Shop.
When you shop at The Noguchi Museum, you’re buying the magnificent result of a life-long dedication to exploring form, matter and space in the realms of sculpture and ceramics, furniture and lighting, architecture and set design. It’s serendipitous as well that Noguchi established lasting relationships with mass producers such as Herman Miller, Vitra and Knoll, a practice many mid-century designers embraced as they sought to enhance society through good design.
What’s in the shop reflects the full career of Noguchi, and the pricing accommodates a variety of budgets. The welcoming Noguchi Freeform Sofa and Ottoman is $10,075 and comes is a variety of colors and fabrics. For those of you who prefer exclusivity, the Museum has the Bamboo Basket Chair, constructed of materials like Shiojo wood, bamboo and iron, and handmade by Japanese craftsmen in a limited edition of 50, for $9,500. There’s the Noguchi Coffee Table, produced by Herman Miller since 1944, which comes in cherry, walnut and black for $1,399. It’s not on display in the shop – so inquire about it with the staff. You’ll also find pieces by Noguchi’s contemporaries – Saarinen tulip chairs, Nelson sunburst clocks and Eames wire-base tables.
Noguchi’s Akari paper lighting series was revolutionary and remains exceptionally popular – the shop’s Akari offerings come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The lamps, which blend traditional techniques with modernist forms, have been made for the Museum for the past 50 years in the Japanese town of Gifu.
The Akari lamps do much more than light up rooms – their designs are meant to convey light as illumination as well as weightlessness. They are built as table lamps, floor lamps, and hanging lamps; all are constructed with washi paper and bamboo ribbing on metal frames. Prices range from $100 to $1,000. Akari prints, exploring similar themes in a two-dimensional format, are priced at $50.
Additionally, you’ll find a focused selection of books covering Noguchi’s long career, his varied interests (landscape design and textiles), and his relationships and collaborators (inventor Buckminster Fuller and choreographer Martha Graham). There are mesmerizing videos of the artist making objects in his studio. SF-based Agelio Batle designed a series of Graphite Objects – all different – that one can use to draw but not rub off on the user, for $60. John Kostick‘s bronze star is $22. Beautiful jewelry fashioned from river stones is available, as well as tote bags and tee shirts.
If you can’t get there, you can visit the online shop, which offers a full selection.
The Noguchi Museum, 9-01 33rd Road, Long Island City, NY 11106; (718) 204-7088 GMAP