Isamu Noguchi for Herman Miller Coffee Table, 1940s. Courtesy of Herman Miller.
One of America’s biggest retailers has allegedly been looking to the artist Isamu Noguchi for some uncredited and unauthorized inspiration. The architecture and design site Curbed stumbled upon a table being sold on the Walmart website that looks suspiciously like the famous table design that Noguchi made for Herman Miller, the Michigan furniture company that still has exclusive resale rights to his work. The glass tabletop is similarly ovular and the bases have a near-identical twist to them, but the Walmart version is just $310.86 compared to the $1,795 price tag for an authorized Noguchi table bought through the Herman Miller-owned retailer Design Within Reach.
The sleuthing Curbed reporter Patrick Sisson recently brought this to the attention of Brett Littman, the director of the Noguchi Museum in Long Island City, who responded, unequivocally, that the table was a total knockoff:
“We are naturally unhappy to learn that Walmart is selling these copies and will contact them to request that they cease doing so immediately. We will also work to identify the manufacturer to request that it cease fabricating the knockoff table as it is an infringement of our trademark and trade dress rights.”
Herman Miller responded to an inquiry saying that the Walmart version was “counterfeit,” but the company has yet to respond to requests for comment.