The famous Isamu Noguchi coffee table base is made of two asymmetrical parts -on reversed and linked to the other one- that together make a three legs structure: the top is a triangular shaped glass.
Intriguingly Noguchi achieves this triangular structure without appearing to do so formally and explicitly. A glass top of a loosely triangular shape sits directly on this leg configuration.
Despite the asymmetry of the base, the final effect is a symmetrical structure with a dynamic design. Only a master in controlling forms, materials and shapes like Noguchi could obtain a product that is strong and a the same time charming like this coffee table.
The table was a striking example of the organic design being promoted in the United States in the early 1940s as a result of the highly influential exhibition in 1941, entitled ‘Organic Design in Home Funishings’, at The Museum of Modern Art.
Yet the use of formal asymmetry in this piece also shows Noguchi’s Japanese cultural heritage; much of the Japanese tradition in painting, ceramics and garden design lays great emphasis on asymmetrical balance and the art of carefully considered naturalness.
From 1962 to 1970 the table was given a plate glass top, and a base of solid walnut or ebony-finished poplar. According to the blueprint specifications, the glass was originally 2.2 cm (0.87 in) thick. but was reduced to 1.9 cm (0.75 in) after 1965, after which time there were also slight modifications to the base and height. But certain details remained the same, such as the dowel connecting the table base, which has always been metal.
The peculiar shape of the base elements -two equal parts- made the table mass-producible and economical: an unique object at an affordable cost and as consequence affordable for the final user. That’s why the Noguchi table also quickly become a mid century icon. Since 2003 -due to the increasing number of imitations on the market- the manufacturer Herman Miller added the Isamu Noguchi signature to each piece to make it easily recognizable.