in situ

Steal My Noguchi

41 Akari lamps of all shapes and sizes as seen glowing in their passionate owners’ homes.

Animation: Strategist; Photos: Alexis Cheung, Alexis Page, Avril Nolan, Jared Blake, Jenny Xie, Kat Mendenhall, Kerrilynn Pamer, Natasha Garrett, Pali Xisto Cornelsen, Serena Mitnik-Miller, TyLynn Nguyen, Valerie Maltaverne

Isamu Noguchi’s washi-paper light sculptures have been consistently popular since the 1950s. In recent years, there has scarcely been a brownstone ceiling or a Herman Miller desk without one, and they’ve become shorthand for taste but not flashiness. Yet it remains difficult to figure out how to buy and style one because of the Noguchi website’s spareness. Purchasing a 1A conical lamp for a desk isn’t a problem, but determining if the nearly 40-inch-diameter 100D pendant is too big for a dining room is another matter. So we asked dozens of people to take photographs of themselves with theirs, most of which are available at, exactly as they’ve styled them.

Alexis Cheung


“The color was unexpected for me, but white seemed too forgettable. I could say I needed light during dark times, but really I wanted a Noguchi and was emotionally primed to rationalize spending $200.”

Brent Buck


“The Akari 120A is the largest spherical lamp with a tight, even ribbed structure. It is centered on the width of the room, aligned with the fireplace, and hung low enough from the ceiling to breathe.”

TyLynn Nguyen


Photo: Bliss Katherine

“My friend helped me choose it. Her eye is superb, and I’m so happy with it. I knew I wanted it above my dining table right away. The lamp makes me feel warm and cozy — perfect for a dinner.”

Joana Avillez


“The lamp defines my home. The shape is very singular. Though my son calls it a banana, it is also a floating crescent or a helmet out of Astérix & Obélix. It’s the moon I can’t always see out my window.”

Jared Blake

Co-founder of Lichen

“I really appreciate the warmth and architectural aspects of this lamp. It’s actually my only source of lighting at the moment, so I’ve become really attached to it. I have smaller living quarters, so it’s better for me to go upward rather than outward with my possessions.”

[Editor’s note: The Akari UF4-L10 is currently out of stock, but you can sign up for restock notifications on the product page.]

Rafael Prieto


“I love Isamu Noguchi as an artist — the way he translates emotion and materiality with sculpture. This piece brings a sense of peace to my apartment, and the drawings add a human touch to it.”

Pali Xisto Cornelsen

Interior and furniture designer

Photo: Austin Leis

“We recently set up our sunken living room with red carpet and curtains. I used a Royère sofa with a Pierre Chapo coffee table and Brazilian modernist chairs by Forma, and there was this empty space on the wall yelling for artwork. I remembered these Akari lamps I had. This lamp isn’t just a lamp; it’s a sculpture.”

Kat Mendenhall

Co-founder of Inamorata

“This is my partner’s and my first home together. I loved the simplicity around Noguchi’s sentiment when he said all that young couples need to start a life together is a futon and an Akari hanging above. There’s nothing more comforting than unwinding together and catching up after our days under this weightless boulder of soft light. The size of the Akari too, with its soft paper luminescence, feels like a guiding light in our bedroom.”

Valérie Maltaverne

Founder and artistic director of Ymer&Malta

“After my studio partnered with the Noguchi Museum on a special Akari sculpture in 2016, the museum commissioned this piece for me directly from the original manufacturer in Gifu, Japan.”

Alexis Page

Beauty consultant

“I chose the 10A for its lower profile and traditional shape. I like that these lamps either disappear or serve as a focal point. They create warm lighting that I love because overhead lighting should be banned.”

[Editor’s note: The Akari 10A is currently out of stock, but you can sign up for restock notifications on the product page.]

Avril Nolan

Co-founder of FORM Atelier

“The 21N and 23N Akari — among the largest floor models Noguchi designed — really command the space around them. We look for the early editions that have a beautiful patina and original hardware.”

Serena Mitnik-Miller

Artist and owner of General Store

“I went with the largest available at the time. The ceilings in my home are so high; it felt like the perfect space for it. I love the exaggerated scale of the globe and how it feels like a sculptural element in the room.”

Natasha Garrett

Founder of Roam Studio

“I chose the Akari 1A because it’s both a functional lamp and a sculpture, and these smaller lights are more affordable. The soft glow makes me feel at peace and eases me into dream time. It’s like a little glowing orb.”

[Editor’s note: The Akari 1A is currently out of stock, but you can sign up for restock notifications on the product page.]

Dung Ngo

Founder of August Editions

Photo: Eric Petschek/B)2023, Eric Petschek

“Noguchi apprenticed with Constantin Brâncusi for two years, and I like to think the UF4-L9 is his ode to his old master. Instead of using heavy stone, he transformed Brâncusi’s heaviness into ethereal paper and light.”

[Editor’s note: The Akari UF3 is currently out of stock, but you can sign up for restock notifications on the product page.]

Fanny Singer

Author and co-founder of Permanent Collection

Photo: Matt Hannam

“It was always going to be a Noguchi lamp we would install over our dining table. The only debate was how big. The 50F is large enough to be a ‘feature’ but without overwhelming the space.”

[Editor’s note: The Akari 50F is currently out of stock, but you can sign up for restock notifications on the product page.]

Kerrilynn Pamer

Co-founder and CEO of CAP Beauty

“When I found this one, I fell in love fast and hard. It feels like a couture dress form and really has a personality. I knew immediately it was the right addition to the room. We’ve had it for about three years, and every day I admire it.”

Filip Sevo

PR at A.P.C.

“The unique angular shape drew us to this particular model. We placed it in the sitting corner of our living room, where it creates an intimate warm atmosphere. The day we purchased the lamp, in the summer of 2022, we packed it into my bike basket and cycled (carefully) back from Queens to Bed-Stuy.”

Caroline Cockerham

Textile designer and co-founder of CICIL

“We chose the oblong ceiling light as a feature over our table because the shape was interesting and didn’t block the line of sight into the other rooms. Akari lights are like tattoos; once you get one, you can’t stop. We would fill our whole house with them if we could.”

[Editor’s note: The 21A is out of stock, but you can sign up for restock notifications on the product page.]

Amanda Gunawan

Architectural designer

“It is rare for a sculpture to have such a distinct form but still feel soft on the eyes and calming. I like how they look when they’re lit up because it reminds me of the Asian tradition of writing your wish on paper lanterns and sending them up into the sky on special occasions. They make me very nostalgic and automatically provide a sense of comfort when I get home from work and see them lit up warmly.”

Go Kasai

Founder of Go Kasai, Inc.

“We visited the Ozeki & Co. shop in Nihonbashi and were able to see the entire Akari lamp lineup in one place. It took us a while to choose our favorite, and this one stood out because of its unconventional triangular shape. Plus we needed to make sure it fit in our suitcase! We also have a Yamagiwa table lamp that is triangular, so in a way, it’s a nice pair.”

Chay Costello

Associate director of merchandising at MoMA Design Store

“I chose my orange patterned design because part of Noguchi’s inspiration for the lamps was to use illuminated paper to create a warm, sunlike glow. I think that effect is particularly resonant with the orange patterning. I placed it on a side table where I can see it right when I open the door.”

Carrie Carrollo


“I love that the 16A honors the very traditional look and feel of a lantern but has an asymmetrical shape that’s more at home in my space, which is filled with things that skew more playful or unusual. I chose a spot where it could breathe and be the star of the show — above my dining table — and placed it just low enough that it’s always in your peripheral vision when you’re sitting down.”

Michele Janezic

Brand director at Umber & Ochre

“This corner has grown to be a sentimental shrine of sorts. There live my favorite candle; palo santo; crystals; a book on symbolism; a gifted commissioned painting of my kitty, Jack; and a favorite photograph of Jack’s gifter, Leslie Williamson. There are also housewarming flowers from a florist friend and a few other natural collected treasures. This all said, the lamp suits the space and sets the mood in this little corner with its diffused light and sculptural shape.”

Dike Blair

Artist and sculptor

“I have four Akari lamps, and I’m not sure how long we’ve had this one, maybe 20 years. It’s actually a replacement for the same model we had, which a nephew destroyed when trying to swat a fly that had landed on it. It’s positioned in a corner where it’s safe from everything except flyswatters. I was drawn to it in part because it’s the simplest of Noguchi’s ceiling lamps: bamboo supports only at the top and bottom, the shape resulting from a simple 45-degree twist.”

Sara Ruffin Costello

Interior designer

“Like a lot of people I know, I copied design editor Tom Delavan, with whom I worked at Domino. He had the biggest Noguchi ball I have ever seen hanging in the middle of his West Village apartment. I got this floor light for our upstate lake shack; it’s Japanese simplicity dovetailed with the Craftsman cabin architecture. When we moved to New Orleans, we popped it into a corner of the primary bedroom. It’s the first thing you see when you walk in the room, and it telegraphs clean lines and harmony. But it’s not the only Noguchi in the house: We have a pair of the giant Akari 120A balls in the living room. (At a cocktail party we hosted, a Louisiana grande dame said to me, “I can’t believe y’all live with these giant balloons hanging in the parlor. How crazy!”)”

[Editor’s note: The Akari UF4-L10 is out of stock, but you can sign up for restock notifications on the product page.]

Max Abelson


“When I was a kid, I was tantalized by the keepsakes my parents stashed in their closet. At the top was an unusual box, thin and wide. They gave it to me for my 30th birthday. ‘A perfect block of light,’ my dad said. He was right.”

Noguchi Akari XP1

Andrew Gardner

Writer and curator

“I received this lamp as a gift from my partner during the pandemic. I was still working in the Department of Architecture & Design at MoMA. I associate this lamp so viscerally with the pandemic — it’s this object of beauty that somehow endures despite the chaos and destruction happening around it. I especially love to admire it from outside, this shining little beacon of comfort.”

Photo-Illustration: Retailer

[Editor’s note: The Akari 1A is out of stock, but you can sign up for restock notifications on the product page.]

Spencer Bailey


Photo: Ogata

“I bought the piece — I’m not even sure I’d call it a lamp — because I’d seen one installed at the exhibition “Isamu Noguchi, Archaic/Modern” at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in 2016. I had the idea of inserting one across the ceiling of this square-shaped room, effectively turning it into a lightbox. When the PL2’s on, it feels like being cocooned inside a giant Akari.”

Naomi Otsu

Graphic designer and illustrator

“I’ve always been drawn to Akari lamps because they remind me of home, which is Japan. The light that comes through the paper makes any space instantaneously warm and inviting. For this space, I went with a more condensed shape — the TV is right there, so I didn’t want to obstruct the view.”

[Editor’s note: The Akari 21A is sold out, but you can sign up for restock notifications on the product page.]

Colin King

Interior designer

Photo: Copyright 2023. All rights reserved.

“This lamp sat in the living room of a previous boss’s parlor-floor brownstone. In 2019, I bought it for my Brooklyn Heights living room, but I auditioned it in my bedroom as well; it now lives in my office. Somehow, it made this tiny room feel gigantic. The vastness of the sculpture should feel overpowering, but its presence is subtle and warm.”

Jenny Xie


“I bought it from the Noguchi Museum shop in 2021 when I visited with my co-workers at Dwell to see the gorgeous installations by Objects of Common Interest. I’d always coveted an Akari lamp, and it felt right to finally buy one at the museum during my first year of living and making a home in New York. I love the egg-inspired shape of the 1A and how it seems quiet and self-contained the way an egg is — but also cute and attentive on its tripod legs like a small friend.”

[Editor’s note: The Akari 1A is sold out, but you can sign up for restock notifications on the product page.]

Ed Be

Co-founder of Lichen

“I have roughly 19 chairs crammed into my three-bedroom apartment and just as many lamps. What makes this one special, besides the fact that it was a birthday gift, is that it adds an ‘organic’ lighting source to my mostly metal-housed lamp collection. The washi-paper shade is timeless, and I can’t wait for it to age a bit with the sun.”

Christine Espinal

Spatial designer at Lichen

“This light was a birthday gift from my dear friend Raja. Finding a place for it was challenging because I have low ceilings in my lofted space. But I found the perfect spot for it in front of my corner window; I love how it lights up at night like a full moon.”

[Editor’s note: The Akari 24N is out of stock, but you can sign up for restock notifications on the product page.]

Theresa di Scianni

Interior stylist

“This was the first thing I bought when we renovated our A-frame in 2017. I love the warmth of the light that permeates the washi paper. There is nothing more inviting than seeing an Akari light glowing through a window at night. I believe every home should have one.”

Tei Carpenter

Founder and director of Agency—Agency

“This is an informal work area set up next to my window. I like how the natural light comes into the space and then mixes with the diffuse light from the paper of the Akari — and also the reflection of the light from the Akari onto the glass. The height of the Akari off the surface is quite intimate when you sit working next to it. Its delicate legs and rounded feet give it an animate quality that I enjoy.”

[Editor’s note: The Akari 1A is out of stock, but you can sign up for restock notifications on the product page.]

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Steal My Noguchi