Monday, November 1, 2010


Asked in 1949 to design a set of playground equipment for Honolulu’s Ala Moana Park System, Isamu Noguchi (he of the Radio Nurse) delivered designs that were never realized. In the October 1940 issue of Architectural Forum (according to Shaina Devorah Larrivee's 2008 Master's Thesis, "Proposed Space: Isamu Noguchi’s Five Playground Designs For New York City"--the photo is also from her Stony Brook thesis, Fig. 7b), Noguchi described the "learning value" of the pieces:

A multiple length swing teaches that the rate of swing is determined by the length of the pendulum not by its weight or width of arc…The spiral slide will develop instinct regarding the bank necessary to overcome the centrifugal force developed by the rate of the slide. The climbing plaything supplies a variety of climbable forms and textures: upright rungs, corrugated post, a series of rings to climb in and out of, a series of beads like oversize fishnet buoys and a rope with a ball on the end.

Personally, I would head straight for the climbing arrangement, but, metaphorically speaking, the swing set brings to mind a passage from Donald Antrim's The Verificationist--you know, with the pancake suppers.

Relationships are like powerful moods that people share. We can go a little mad in our love relationships. Jane and I have always had what I would call a good love, in that it has been possible to go mad, but never too mad; in other words, we do not, when falling in and out of love, fall too far away from, or too profoundly into, the world.

Typographically speaking, Noguchi's and Antrim's words overtly offer nothing furred or furry, yet, the word--especially as a homophone--seems suited, somehow, to swings sets and chemical affinity.


Remiss63 said...

I would be interested in reading her thesis on Noguchi's playground designs. Do you know where I could find it?

Andrew Raimist

Elizabeth Manus said...

Hello A Raimist. Try her name at