USED BY DESIGN: The enduring influence of artist and designer Isamu Noguchi on various design disciplines and creative activities was evident on Tuesday night during the “Noguchi at Night” merit celebration at The Noguchi Museum.
Designer Sandy Liang, Mission Chinese chef and owner Danny Bowien and Christine Park co-lead a musical and culinary experience, celebrating the creativity of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. It’s also raising funds for the museum and the Banner Artist 2022 project that started last year as a sign of solidarity against anti-Asian violence. This project was also created as an open call for AAPI artists to have selected works exhibited on the museum’s outdoor banner.
As guests mingle under the Katsura tree in the museum’s serene sculpture garden that reflects the totality of Noguchi’s original designs, Hisham Akira Bharoocha offers drum solo performances in the indoor-outdoor gallery. Guests can enjoy small dishes made from Bowien and Suntory cocktails. Before Michelle Zauner of Japanese Breakfast performed an acoustic solo set in the museum’s main gallery, some guests toured the gallery and others lingered in front of Akari’s light sculpture in the minimalistic museum shop. In accordance with the naturalistic setting of the event, Amy Yip from Yip Studio provided a cake in the shape of a stone.
The Noguchi Museum in Long Island City is the first museum in the US to be founded by a living artist. Museum director Brett Littman said, “Noguchi represents perhaps one of the most important biracial figures of the 20th century in terms of American art. His identity is the foundation of all his art — East-West, America-Japan. For us, I wanted to start tying all those threads and really start thinking about Noguchi’s values and being able to advance the AAPI creative community through performance, music, dance — whatever it is. This gala is the first step in that way.”
Just a few weeks ago, the International Woolmark Awards lauded the seven finalists of the year in a short film directed by FKA Twigs that comes with an immersive showroom and partnership with the Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum. Gazing at the very graceful crowd in the park, Littman spoke of the artist’s newfound fascination.
“Young people are very interested in Noguchi today, and especially in the world of fashion and design,” he said. “We recently worked on a project with the Woolmark Prize and FKA Twigs. Many people see Noguchi as the type of person who thinks about nature, thinks holistically in placing things, ecology and identity.”
Continuing on, Littman said, “He was a great polymath too. He does industrial design, architecture, garden design seamlessly. He is someone who moves so quickly through things and without a break. Of course, everything to him was sculpture so he had a rubric where he could work and manage things….Also, [he had] this sense of minimalism or essentialism. What you see here looks very minimalistic and placed. He is more about materiality. Of course, he tends towards less. Noguchi looks really good, when there is only one thing in a space. Overall, I’d just say he’s an artist, which seems timely—again, a beautiful one. He’s not a Modernist fossil — at all.”