9 Homes That’ll Convince You Your Space Needs a Noguchi-Style Paper Lantern

published Aug 23, 2023
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Living room with cream shag rug, white tile coffee table with colorful hardback coffee table books, wood herringbone floors, white walls, large windows with white curtains and plants around, checkered dog bed in front of window, white shelves with books, modern/80s looking art objects, brown loveseat with blue and white throw, white round armchair, full length wavy mirror with gold frame,

Even if you’re not acquainted with the name Isamu Noguchi, chances are you’re familiar with his iconic collection of paper lights known as Akari. Not only are his oversized paper globe lanterns well-loved by popular designers like Leanne Ford, but you can also spy them in the homes of many stylish celebrities like Julianne Moore and Ashley Tisdale. IKEA even has a collection of pendants inspired by his works. 

According to the Noguchi Museum, the artist modeled his Akari collection on the lanterns used for night fishing on the Nagara River. Made from traditional washi paper and bamboo, Noguchi’s lights, which come in a variety of sizes and a few shapes, have remained in strong demand ever since their inception in 1951. Their organic quality lends an easy earthiness to any space, while their sculptural form creates a strong focal point. When lit, Noguchi’s orb design resembles the soft glow of the moon.

If you should find yourself wanting to change up the lighting in your space, these nine super-chic homes prove that you can’t go wrong with a Noguchi-style paper light.

A Minimal Bungalow in Long Beach

Inspired by Australia and the American Southwest, homeowner Travis Wayne and his husband, Nick, transformed their formerly dark blue home into a minimalist’s paradise. They relied on white paint and neutral furniture to create a blank canvas that allows their collection of found objects and vintage decor to shine. In their living room, a paper light hangs overhead, quietly blending in with the wall to create a soft focal point overhead in the room.

Credit: Natalie Bird

An Open-Plan Loft in NYC

When your home has a wide-open floor plan, like the loft in Tribeca that Natalie Bird shares with her husband, you have to get creative to make the space feel like it has distinct “rooms.” Bird utilized a combination of rugs and lighting to carve out various zones, such as the jute rug and round paper light in her living area. For a fun twist, she hung a disco ball in the adjacent dining room, which echoes the light’s orb shape for cohesion.

I dreamt of a golden couch with a black-and-white rug. It's fun! It pops! It turns a living room into a gathering room. Conversation starters are the couch, quirky pillows, travel pieces on the mantel, and a print with a cat. And the couch's right side extends, creating a giant place for the fun gatherings.

A Small Apartment in the Netherlands

Being from Miami, Michelle Arrazcaeta was eager to infuse her personal style and Cuban heritage into her apartment in the Netherlands. She had dreamt of a golden couch with a black-and-white rug, and that’s exactly how she decorated her living room. Plants and colorful accessories bring a tropical touch to the historical Dutch mantel, while a paper lantern hung over the room’s center offers a sculptural statement without stealing the show. 

Credit: Kate Rangel

A Colorful Home in North Carolina

Designer Stacey-Ann Blake believes your space should be a reflection of you, and she wholeheartedly embraces this philosophy in the North Carolina home she shares with her husband and three children. To reflect her family’s Jamaican heritage, color is a big part of the home’s aesthetic. Bright orange furniture pops against bold blue walls in the living room, while a large paper light draws the eye up without competing with its surroundings.

Credit: Justin Chung

A Japanese-Inspired Loft in LA

Even though the Los Angeles loft where Amanda Gunawan resides was once an old, industrial factory, she was able to see its potential. There was something about the way the light hit that made her vision for the space come clear: a Japanese-inspired ryokan. Drawing from nature, the home has a calming, earthy quality, thanks to light wood furniture, an assortment of artisanal ceramics, and — you guessed it! — no shortage of paper lanterns.

Credit: Lana Kenney

A Wooden Cabin in South Africa

It’s not every day you find a wooden cabin on stilts, so when Amy Keevy and her fiancée, Maryke, walked into their home in South Africa, they knew it was “the one.” With sweeping views of the Tsitsikamma forest, it offers a unique balance of indoor/outdoor living. The homeowners leaned heavily into the nature vibe, incorporating lots of natural materials, like wooden furniture, potted plants, and a smattering of paper lights, which complement the natural finished walls perfectly.

A Victorian Home in Bristol 

Lottie Goldsmith and her husband couldn’t find a home large enough to house their family of seven, so they decided to put an addition onto an older home that lacked central heat, had no gas supply, and was full of lead pipes. Although it took an extensive renovation to get their Bristol home into livable condition, Goldsmith believes it was well worth the effort. Now, it’s a colorful space brimming with eclectic accents and fun patterns. Case in point? The patchwork quilt that hangs on the dining room wall, featuring colorful circles, a shape that’s repeated with the paper light fixture hanging over the table.  

A Fixer-Upper in London

It took Nadine Bacchus and her partner, Juls, three years to renovate their Victorian home in London. Their budget was tight, and they renovated bit by bit, but the result is a gorgeous terrace home full of architectural details. In the living room, the furnishings and fixtures skew a bit mid-century with a leather couch and vintage coffee table. And what other light could they choose to pay further homage to mid-century design? A Noguchi-style paper lantern, of course. 

An Airy Apartment in Prague

It wasn’t love at first sight when Karina and Lucie first toured their apartment in Prague. The rough condition of the building’s front door almost scared them off entirely, but once the Realtor opened the door to the apartment, the couple said they immediately felt like they were home. In six short months, they created a space that feels like them, sticking to a neutral palette for “bigger items that we want to last long,” such as the oversized paper lantern hanging in their living room and colorful accents with playful shapes.

What’s nice about a Noguchi-style lantern is that it’s a style chameleon; although mid-century in its origins, it can hang with trendy, of-the-moment neotenic pieces, like the wavy mirror and graphic tiled coffee table here.