Skip to main content
Coffee Table
Iconic Designs

Coffee Table

About the Design

As Isamu Noguchi (1904–88) saw it, he only created one truly good piece of furniture, a coffee table. Despite his legacy of design that combined dynamic forms with organic materials and resulted in an oeuvre still widely celebrated today, the Japanese-American artist and designer considered the Noguchi coffee table his singular success.


In 1944, Noguchi created the first version of his classic coffee table as a riff on a piece he designed for former MoMA president, A. Conger Goodyear, five years earlier. According to design lore, industrial designer and magazine journalist George Nelson visited Noguchi while working on an article titled “How to Make a Table” and found him at work on a prototype for the piece that would later become the Noguchi coffee table. Nelson, then the director of design at Herman Miller, was not only so taken by Noguchi’s creation that he used it to illustrate his essay but he also allegedly convinced the legendary furniture manufacturer to produce it. Beginning in 1948, the company did.


Art enthusiasts may compare the Noguchi table’s sculptural base to the work of a certain Romanian sculptor — and for good reason. A young Isamu Noguchi worked as Constantin Brancusi’s assistant for several months in 1927 before embarking on a wide-spanning career. He dabbled in furniture and lighting design, sculpture and more. Although it was produced some 15 years after Noguchi left Brancusi’s studio, the coffee table, with its sinuously shaped base, bears a stylistic similarity to Brancusi’s work. It also draws from the kind of abstract sculpture that Noguchi began to create during the 1940s while living in New York City’s Greenwich Village, where he first designed the table.


Comprised of just two materials — wood and glass — the coffee table is visually complex yet ingenious in its simplicity. Two interlocking, identical wood pieces act as the base of Noguchi’s design, and they’re covered with a glass top. Due to the base’s asymmetrical form, the table looks different from any angle — and the clear top ensures that no angle is ever obscured. When it debuted in the Herman Miller catalogue, the Noguchi coffee table was touted as a “sculpture for use.” Noguchi produced the first version of the table in rosewood, and Herman Miller now offers it in black, cherry, walnut and white ash, each of which uniquely celebrates the artist’s deep appreciation for natural materials.


Isamu Noguchi Coffee Table

Filter Results
to
Item Location
4
5
4
1
Iconic Coffee Table in Wood and Glass by Isamu Noguchi
By Herman Miller, Isamu Noguchi
Located in Los Angeles, CA
Iconic coffee table designed by Isamu Noguchi and Manufactured by Herman Miller. The table has a very organic feel to it, the wood base is beautifully sculpted and the glass is th...
Category

Late 20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Coffee and Cocktail Tables

Materials

Glass, Wood

1950s IN-50 Low Table by Isamu Noguchi for Herman Miller
By Herman Miller, Isamu Noguchi
Located in Sagaponack, NY
An early IN-50 low table having the original triangular shaped thick glass top resting on a birch pivoting base.
Category

Mid-20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Coffee and Cocktail Tables

Materials

Glass, Birch

IN-50 Low Table by Isamu Noguchi
By Isamu Noguchi
Located in Dronten, NL
A very early Isamu Noguchi for Herman Miller IN-50 coffee table with original glass top resting on interconnected pivoting black lacquered supports. The last close-up photos show ag...
Category

Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Coffee and Cocktail Tables

Materials

Glass, Wood

Isamu Noguchi IN-50 Coffee Table
By Herman Miller, Isamu Noguchi
Located in Chicago, IL
Coffee table Designed by Isamu Noguchi for Herman Miller USA, circa 1990s Wood and glass Measures: 15 ¾” H x 40 ¾” W x 50”? D This authentic table has Noguchi’s signat...
Category

1990s American Mid-Century Modern Coffee and Cocktail Tables

Materials

Glass, Wood

IN-50 Low Table by Isamu Noguchi
By Herman Miller, Isamu Noguchi
Located in Sagaponack, NY
An early Noguchi low table (IN-50) with original glass top resting on interconnected pivoting walnut supports.
Category

Vintage 1950s American Mid-Century Modern Coffee and Cocktail Tables

Materials

Wood