Isamu Noguchi Octetra

In the footsteps of Isamu Noguchi...

Octetra is one of the most beautiful modernist sculptures ever created. Octetra was designed by the Japanese artist Isamu Noguchi in 1968. Octetra is a reinforced concrete sculpture that evokes Buckminster Fuller's Octahedron and Dymaxion design from 1943. Although Isamu Noguchi designed Octetra as a play sculpture, it has amazing artistic appeal and would look beautiful as a stand-alone outdoor sculpture in a modernist sculpture garden paired with a couple of Henry Moore sculptures.

Isamu Noguchi sought to bring art into the everyday life of children, sculptures that would inspire children, sculptures that would stir the creative imagination. Unfortunately, few of Isamu Noguchi's play sculptures were ever shipped outside Japan. Safety regulations and litigation in the US scared the Japanese manufacturer so our playgrounds are sadly devoid of these wonderful modern play sculptures. In addition, playgrounds in the US are under-recognized as an artistic medium and it is our hope that this will change in the future. Japan appears to have exactly the opposite policy, every piece of playground equipment looks like an oversized sculpture.

Undaunted and unwilling to wait for things to change at the homefront, we packed our toothbrush and took the next available flight out to Tokyo, and headed by bullet train to Takamatsu, a large city on Shikoku Island off Japan's Eastern coast. Smack in the center of town, we found these two drop dead gorgeous play sculptures by Isamu Noguchi. The structural clarity of these perfectly proportioned sculptures is truly a sight to behold. Check back later this week as we will be featuring more hidden modernist gems from Japan.

Text and images by Lucia Fontana for