Akari Light Sculptures
“Everything is sculpture. Any material, any idea without hindrance born into space, I consider sculpture.”
- Isamu Noguchi
For most of my childhood summers, my parents took my younger sibling and I to the annual Vancouver Folk Music Festival, a local music festival held at Jericho Beach Park. In all honesty, I cannot recall much of the festival… full days spent out in the sun were seemingly never-ending and draining - a true test of patience and endurance for us kids. What I can remember is the sense of relief when the sun would finally set, with the cooler air setting the scene for the final acts of the night. It was during these last performances, where suddenly a procession of unique, handmade lanterns would start to work its way through the crowd. The lanterns would light up the open field, with an orange glow that was soothing, like a blanket enveloping the audience.
It’s easy to see how Isamu Noguchi’s Akari Light Sculptures have become so ubiquitous, sitting somewhere in between being both art objects and lighting. The many replicas and renditions of Noguchi’s designs certainly speak to his legacy of bringing sculpture, elements of nature and traditional crafts into communal spaces, into the home. With the tender, gentle nature of their construction and materials, the Akari Light Sculptures seem to bring about a sense of calm to any room.
When I first managed to purchase an Akari Light Sculpture in the summer of 2019, little did I know that this lamp would become not only just a permanent fixture in my living space, but more of a companion of sorts during the time spent inside for the better part of the following two years. The lamp would come to serve as a direct source of comfort through all the time that felt so uncertain, and most definitely dark, in every sense of the word. Its soft glow would often be the backdrop to other sources of comfort during this time - music, TV shows, and the rare meals shared with family and friends.
Over the past two years, the lamp has been there to witness my highs and lows, and everything in between. While the lamp undeniably checks all the boxes when it comes to function and aesthetics, it is ultimately its gift of comfort that keeps me coming back. To me, the lamp now feels like an old friend to lean on.