"Radio Nurse"

Designer: Isamu Noguchi (American, Los Angeles, California 1904–1988 New York)

Manufacturer: Zenith Radio Corporation (Chicago, Illinois)

Manufacturer: Chicago Molded Products Corporation (Chicago, Illinois)

Manufacturer: Kurz-Kasch, Inc. (Dayton, Ohio)

Date: 1937

Medium: Bakelite, cellulose acetate

Dimensions: 8 x 6 1/2 x 6 1/2 in. (20.3 x 16.5 x 16.5 cm)

Classification: Machines & Appliances

Credit Line: John C. Waddell Collection, Gift of John C. Waddell, 2000

Accession Number: 2000.600.14

Rights and Reproduction: © The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum


Noguchi worked in a variety of media and Radio Nurse was his first major industrial commission. Together with a separate enameled metal receiver called the Guardian Ear, this piece functions as a baby monitor, transmitting sounds from the baby’s room to the receiver. The highly sculptural form evokes an abstracted human head: the eponymous surrogate nurse. Made of Bakelite, a plasticlike, malleable material that could be dyed almost any color, Radio Nurse is an excellent example of the new, industrial material’s sculptural qualities.