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Vitra (Akari)

In 1951 the Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988) began to design the Akari Light Sculptures, a group of works handcrafted out of shoji paper that eventually comprised over 100 luminaires – table, floor and ceiling lamps. He chose the name 'akari' for these objects, a word that means 'light' in Japanese, connoting both illumination and physical lightness.

“The light of Akari is like the light of the sun filtered through the paper of shoji. The harshness of electricity is thus transformed through the magic of paper back to the light of our origin – the sun – so that its warmth may continue to fill our rooms at night" – Isamu Noguchi

Noguchi indented his art to serve both practical and social functions, and his sculptural style exerted a lasting influence on the idiom of organic design in the 1950s.

Each luminaire is meticulously crafted by hand in the Ozeki workshop, a traditional family-run company based in Gifu, Japan. In a first step, bamboo rods are stretched across the original wooden forms designed by Noguchi to make the framework that determines the object's shape. Washi paper, derived from the bark of the mulberry tree, is cut in strips to fit the size and shape of the lamp and then glued to the bamboo ribbing. After the glue has dried, the wooden form is removed and the shade can be folded.