Rudder Dining Suite

A Rare Complete Set

Isamu Noguchi’s Rudder, or Fin, dining table and stools are among the most experimental furniture forms from the post-war era. Designed as a complete set, the Rudder dining suite was introduced by Herman Miller in 1948. Although akin to the clean lines of other Herman Miller furniture, Noguchi's works are unique in their expressiveness and radical for their association with the spirit of fine arts. Ultimately, his biomorphic designs proved to be too avant-garde and production ceased after only three years.

This rare and important dining suite is the only known complete set to be offered at auction. Margaret Hastings purchased the set in 1954 from Herman Miller. An interior decorator, Hastings altered the normally blonde finish so the set would better match her interior. For almost sixty years, this dining set was used in the Hastings’ home just as Noguchi had intended.

Isamu Noguchi 1904–1988

Isamu Noguchi was the son of Yone Noguchi, a Japanese poet, and Léonie Gilmour, an American writer. He was born in Los Angeles in 1904 but lived in Japan from the age of two until 1918 when he returned to the United States to attend school in Indiana. In 1922 Noguchi moved to New York to study pre-medicine at Columbia University. He also took night courses in sculpture with Onorio Ruotolo and soon after, he left Columbia in pursuit of a career in the arts.

In 1927 Noguchi received a Guggenheim Fellowship for a trip to Paris and the Far East. For six months in Paris, he worked in the studio of Constantin Brancusi and his own work became more abstract as Noguchi explored working with stone, wood and sheet metal. Noguchi returned to New York and in 1929 he met R. Buckminster Fuller and Martha Graham, colleagues and friends with whom he would later collaborate. In 1938 Noguchi was commissioned to complete a work for the Associated Press building in the Rockefeller Center in New York. Marking his first public sculpture, this work garnered attention and recognition for the artist in the United States.

Auction Results Isamu Noguchi