Several years ago during a visit to India I came across a shop in Madras that carried paper lantern shades. On seeing them I turned to my mother who was with me and blurted that it looks somewhat like the Noguchi lights. I actually didn't know much about Noguchi at that time except that I loved his gorgeous lights which I saw in the pages of shelter magazines and I must have caught his name in the captions. I made a note to look up Noguchi once back home and I did. To my surprise, I learned that the Noguchi museum was right here on the east coast in Long Island City, Queens.
Little did I know that my trip then to the Noguchi Museum would be the first of several more visits thereafter. The peace and the quiet of the space and the garden itself are so rewarding and worth the trip every time. Add to that, getting up close and personal with some of Noguchi's greatest creations and it starts to feel giddy just to see the sheer variety of materials and mediums he was fluent in - marble, alabaster, onyx, stone, slate, steel, brass, bronze, aluminum, stainless steel, magnesite, wood, terracotta, plaster of paris and much much more. He was an artist, a sculptor, a furniture and lighting designer who also happened to design architectural spaces including the Noguchi museum and it's garden. And I thought he just made lamps out of rice paper.
I remember thinking how easy and very possible he made it all look and how limitless imagination and creativity can be when coupled with a huge dose of effort and tenacity. It was during one of my early visits to the Noguchi Museum that I first thought about becoming a designer and the kind of designer I wanted to be - one who is hands-on whenever possible and unafraid to try new and different things even if the task at hand feels monumental and the risk quotient seems high. I'm thinking of Noguchi and some of his peers as we continue working on a project I started on nearly seven years ago in Bethesda, MD. This is a project close to my heart as the clients are some of the nicest people I've known for a long time now and their trust has given me the leverage to literally take a paint brush to their home and exercise some of my more daring ideas. It is immensely satisfying when you don't just design and orchestrate a crew of people to bring your vision to life but also have the chance to create something personal and unique with your very own hands.
Here's to being inspired, taking measured risks and trying out new things!
Below are some of my favorite works by Noguchi. Notice how current and in fact cutting edge some of his early works are.
Photos via Noguchi.org and Pinterest.