Inspiration is Where You Find It: Isamu Noguchi

Isamu Noguchi was the organic answer to a design movement otherwise defined by pronounced lines and technological advancements. One of mid-century modern’s key figures, Noguchi’s nature-inspired pieces offered a stark contrast to the clean, seemingly mechanized creations of his peers. He began his career as a sculptor in the 1920’s, working with wood, metals, stone and plaster to create beautiful shapes that balanced hard edges with curved forms. In 1947, Noguchi took on another role as a furniture designer for the illustrious Herman Miller company, producing a variety of items including what is now his most recognizable work, the Noguchi table. With so much on his plate, the artist spent most of his days in his studio. As he worked, Noguchi wore clothes that reflected the free-flowing nature of his pieces: solid t-shirts and polos, wide legged cropped trousers and, more often than not, bare feet. However, when the occasion called for it, Noguchi cleaned up well too. His tailored topcoats, natty suits, and occasional bow ties reflected the trad-like style that was prominent throughout the era, and he pulled them all off with aplomb. To this day, Noguchi is still heralded in the art community for his mastery of a range of styles and mediums. And for me, that same mastery was apparent in every outfit he wore.

A classic Noguchi in the studio outfit:

Gitman Vintage Shaggy Oxford
Rancourt & Co. Chromexcel Belt
Unis Gio Pants

A classic Noguchi out of the studio outfit:

Woolrich Woolen Mills Corduroy Expo Pant
J.Press Shaggy Dog Sweater
Pantherella Ribbed Socks
Rancourt & Co. Gilman Camp Moc

Jake Gallagher is a writer and student currently living in Manhattan. He focuses on back stories and the historical side of menswear at his site You can also follow him on Twitter.

  • joe

    As always, love Well-Spent. I very much enjoy the IIWYFI editorials- learn more about an artist and place style within context.

    As a practical question, anyone fit a BB ESF 14.5×32 and what is best for Gitman Vintage?

    Keep up the good work, Jake (and Brad)



  • NigelM

    Great photo’s. A few years ago I visited his studio in Shikoku. While absorbing to see the fashion in which he worked, there were not that many photo’s that I can recall. Very little of his personal history either. For example, nothing of his relationship with Frieda Kahlo.

    Can you tell me where the photo of the statue of the chariot and four horses in the (fountain? lake?) was taken? The sculpture reminds me of the Goddess of Victory above the Brandenburg gate in Berlin, although I’ve never seen pictures of it semi-destroyed in water…

    Anyway, much enjoyed the article…