art, decor, design

Design Icons: the Noguchi table by Isamu Noguchi

Isamu Noguchi in 1980. Photo by Yousuf Karsh via

The famous Noguchi coffee table, designed by Isamu Noguchi in 1947, is a Modernist design icon with impeccable shape and form. It's often debated whether it's a work of art or a piece of furniture and we'd happily answer that it is both. The 1947 Herman Miller catalogue put it perfectly, describing it as a 'sculpture-for-use'.


Isamu Noguchi was a Japanese-American artist whose career spanned six decades. He often blurred the lines between art and design, making him a master in his class. Noguchi was known for his landscape and architectural work as well as his sculpture and furniture, and also did a few set designs for Martha Graham productions. Following the motto 'do something and then find out what you did', the artist experimented all his life. There's now a museum dedicated to his life and work in Long Island, New York, which hosts most of his work and exhibits other artists regularly too.


The Noguchi coffee table first came to be from a rosewood and glass table that the designer made in 1939 for A. Conger Goodyear, founder and president of the New York's Museum of Modern Art. The table was so admired by the Herman Miller team that they commisioned him to design a similar one with a freeform sculptural base and biomorphic glass top. Originally only available in walnut and cherry wood, the base consists of two identical parts; one reversed, the other not.

what now?

Herman Miller still has the production rights for the Noguchi table and it continues to be manufactured today. The solid wood base is currently available in four finishes; black, natural cherry, white ash and walnut. If ever you're in the market for one, you can easily tell if it's the real deal or not by looking for Noguchi's handwriting etched on the glass table top and on a medallion on the underside the base. Visit for more details.
Photo via