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:
A classic Noguchi out of the studio outfit: