Isamu Noguchi might be one of the most natural artists of the modernist period. He was originally a landscaper, and never really delved into furniture, apart from creating the Noguchi table and other minimalist artifacts. Born in Los Angeles in 1904, he was the illegitimate son of poet Yone Noguchi and his editor, the great writer Léonie Gilmour.
Isamu was born in the United States but spent his early childhood in Japan, where his parents had migrated following anti-Japanese sentiment in California, even decades before World War II. After his mom gave birth to his half-sister, they moved again and commissioned a new house to be built for the growing family, and this is where Isamu began to put his talents into practice.
During the house’s construction, young Isamu began developing a love for nature, flora, wood, and art. He would later receive education in the United States taking a series of mentors, a journey that would end in the construction of his most beloved piece: the Noguchi table.
Designing the iconic Noguchi table
The Noguchi table, also called Tribeca table by a few manufacturers, doesn’t have a single sharp edge: not on the wood, not on the glass pane. Rather, it is built following the rules of nature: curved lines and bending shapes, all working in conjunction to achieve solidity. Think about the Ying-Yang symbol for a few seconds. Two equal elements balancing each other out to make a perfect circle. The Noguchi table follows the same principle: two pieces of wood (built exactly alike) are placed on top of the other. One is facing up, the other is upside down.
The wood pieces resemble spider legs, or crab legs to a certain extent. They look like a pair of legs with pointy ends. On the left side of the table, the wooden leg touches the ground and tip touches the glass top. On the right side, the wooden leg supports the glass top and the tip touches the ground. Perfectly balanced, the pane sits atop this configuration without the need for any added materials like glue, screws, etcetera. It is quite a natural composition when you finally assemble it.
As the glass top is a rounded triangle (beware of fake copies with sharp edges), both legs meet at one of its corners. The table is thus sustained by the length of the superior leg and the upside down tip of the inferior leg, as explained above.
The Noguchi table is usually regarded as more than just furniture
This table has been praised by many woodworking professionals, artists, and overall design enthusiasts as more than just a piece of furniture. In fact, many would argue that its primary purpose is that of a sculpture transformed into a useful object, like a Greek column. Original Noguchi’s sell in art auctions for tens of thousands of dollars, and that’s why Barcelona Designs is committed to bringing an affordable, yet true-to-design, version of this table to its customers.
If you’ve found yourself wondering about the design of this table, be sure to learn a little more about the artistic practice of biomorphism, which includes taking natural shapes and occurrences to create artificial objects. Just like the Eames Lounge chair was known to have the appearance of a baseball mitt, or the Womb chair was inspired by… Well… A mother’s womb, the Noguchi table has its origin on the delicate balance of nature itself.