Make Things Magical

Paper lanterns originated in China and forced their way into Japan, where skilled craftspeople produced lanterns reflecting the Japanese aesthetic. Isamu Noguchi was inspired by Japanese lanterns made in Gifu and made a line of pared-down modern contours, for instance, easy ball-shape pendant lantern in 1951. His Akari Light Sculptures series, which comprised the pendants as well as table and floor lamps, was well received and became emblematic of midcentury modern design. Fast forward into the ’70s and bohemian hippie decoration, and once again the ball was back in China’s court when the nation started to generate look-alike productions of Noguchi’s lanterns.

Today paper chunk lanterns are more popular than ever. That’s because the designs are simple, unpretentious and ageless. They can be found in a wide range of shades and sizes, and therefore budget friendly that one can easily hang as a necklace shade or many as party decoration, inside or out.

Charlie Barnett Associates

The 12-foot ceilings in this contemporary Hillsborough, California, ranch home (constructed in 1962 and newly rennovated) would be an ideal height for big paper lanterns. In this ideal setting, you can definitely understand why these lanterns became midcentury modern icons. Japanese ease and hand-crafting heritage combined with contemporary design principles caused a modernist and harmonious form that has been unmatched in its own time.

John Maniscalco Architecture

This narrow hallway in an Breckenridge, Colorado, vacation house is lined with a series of paper lanterns. The appearance reminds me of reflected moonlight on the water, which is imagery that is not much from Noguchi’s original inspiration: bobbing fishing vessel lanterns on the river.

HartmanBaldwin Design/Build

The lantern hanging in this standard Japanese tearoom may help us understand the difference between the landscapes which inspired Noguchi and those who he made and introduced into the world as viable art. Noguchi took a conventional lantern like the one displayed here, down it to the barest minimum and subsequently gave it a fresh twist by functioning with sizes not traditionally seen, as well as unconventional details, including irregular ribbing.

The Cross Interior Design

A big white ball lantern with irregular ribbing is refreshing from a background of apple-green walls in this diverse Vancouver bedroom. The color is just big enough to balance the white bed, resulting in an eclectic contemporary look that does not take itself too seriously.

DHV Architects

A paper ball color is easy and unassuming in this Scandinavian-style dining room in Bristol, U.K., and perfectly complements the midcentury modern Arne Jacobsen chairs from the same era.

Laura S Mitchell Interior Design

A large white paper lantern paired with white dining seats is refreshing and uplifting; the appearance is simple yet sophisticated, easy to attain and well suited for a compact space in a Houston high-rise.

Faiella Design

This contemporary San Franciso loft with high ceilings is the best spot for a luminous and weightless yellowish ball whose softness overlooks the cityscape beyond. By night the luminous skyscraper office lights along with the floating paper lantern are most certainly magical firm.

B Pila Design Studio

The tall ceiling in this Miami kids living room is also an ideal place for round paper lantern fixtures. By shocking the heights and employing a variety of shades and sizes, one can attain a look that is reminiscent of a playful group of balloons.

If you’re trying to find a way to add some playful colour to a casual room, this is for you. The sitting room was transformed into a joyful gathering spot with the accession of paper lanterns hung in the corner. Take note: There is enough blue heading on that the lantern choice of white and green is right on.

Kelly Mack Home

Need a celebration decor idea or a easy method to create play? Don’t be reluctant to pile on the lanterns. Here the effect in a Los Angeles house is nearly Moroccan casbah due to those rich colours that blend with the upholstery and wallpaper, creating a sea of vibrant colour.


A wonderful assortment of large paper lanterns hung right over this exterior dining room in Georgia immediately sets the stage and contains “celebration” written all over it.

2 Point Perspective

A baby’s room is the best place to play mini paper chunk lanterns in a couple of sizes. Orange and white were play the background as though the little dots on the wall have somehow come to existence.

MTLA- Mark Tessier Landscape Architecture

This exterior seating area in a Culver City, California, residence was brought to life with round lanterns in a variety of sizes. The white is fresh and contemporary, and it’s no surprise that this distance is a neighborhood gathering spot. I am quite certain that the effect after dark is not all that different from the bobbing fishing vessel lights that inspired Noguchi.

Akari 45A Pendant Lamp – EUR 214

If you can swing it, I recommend obtaining a Noguchi original. The production of Noguchi’s Akari bracelets — and of the Akari Light Sculptures — has taken place only in Japan in the Ozeki Company since 1951, and manufacturing strictly follows methods traditionally employed for Western Gifu lanterns.

The lights are hand crafted, starting with the making of washi paper by the inner bark of the mulberry tree. Bamboo ribbing is stretched across wooden formed molds, and strips of cut-to-size washi paper are glued onto both sides of the frame.

Once the glue has dried, the internal wooden form is disassembled and removed. This results in a flexible paper form, which may be collapsed and packaged flat for shipping. The pendants include a patented metallic wire stretcher and support system made by Noguchi.

See related