Earlier this year, Herman Miller spent $21K to help repaint and restore a playground in Atlanta's Piedmont Park designed by sculptor and landscape architect Isamu Noguchi (of coffee table fame). To commemorate the effort, Herman Miller has published an essay by architecture critic Alexandra Lange that explores how Noguchi's ideas for playgrounds as a "primer of shapes and functions; simple, mysterious, and evocative; thus educational," influenced how they took shape in America, despite the fact that most of his proposals went unrealized.
A lot of Noguchi's influence was due to his effect on playground pioneers Richard Dattner and M. Paul Friedberg. Built in 1975 as the High Museum of Art's bicentennial gift to the city of Atlanta, Noguchi's one-acre Playscapes embodies his attempts to use simple, sculptural forms to encourage unstructured play. Now that planners are thinking more about playgrounds as "organic" experiences—think the now ubiquitous "sprayground"—it's worth revisiting a play area that doesn't come right out and tell children what to do. It's also nice to see one of Noguchi's works looking so fresh.
· The Great Playscapes [Herman Miller]