An undulating, organic ceiling installation completed by midcentury designer and sculptor Isamu Noguchi in the ‘40s has been re-revealed after months of restoration work at a U-Haul Moving & Storage location in St. Louis. The curvy, space-age design, initially commissioned by Magic Chef Building architect Harris Armstrong, had been covered up by a drop ceiling for decades. U-Haul rediscovered the ceiling, and worked from last November to March to renovate the space to better display the bulk of the sculpture (80 percent is now visible).
"Every effort was made by our management team and facility maintenance staff to reveal as much of the sculpture as possible and bring the illuminated ceiling back to its former glory within the bounds of our store’s operations," says Steve Langford, U-Haul Company of St. Louis president. "We hope you enjoy it as much as we do, and that the artwork makes for an even better U-Haul customer experience."
In addition to removing the drop ceiling, the showroom was expanded, can lighting was repaired, and walls were repainted in their original colors.
"Noguchi held that by lending punctuation and dimension to space, these large-scale sculptures, an extension of the architecture itself, could make people ‘feel better, feel happier to be there,’" said Genevieve Cortinovis, assistant curator of decorative arts and design at the Saint Louis Art Museum.
A model of Noguchi’s ceiling is in the museum’s collection and was recently on display as part of the St. Louis Modern exhibition.
Langford told Curbed that Noguchi had actually designed two other lunar sculptures, one for a cruise ship and another for a building in New York, but both are either lost or beyond repair. The company is happy to have preserved the unique sculpture, and plans to host an open house on May 19th so the community can come in and take a look at the restored work.