October 25, 2004

The Zenith Radio Nurse: Vintage Baby Monitor by Isamu Noguchi

noguchi_radio_nurse.jpgIn 1937, two years after the first Trial of The Century--the Lindbergh Baby kidnapping/murder--had ended, Zenith introduced the Baby Nurse. Used in conjunction with the wireless Guardian Ear, this was possibly the earliest baby monitor around.

The Radio Nurse was the first commercial design by the sculptor Isamu Noguchi, and its biomorphic, abstracted head form is closely related to his surrealist work of the same era. And even though it's supposed to be a nurse, I think it looks more like a kendo mask or a ninja.

Recognized both for its design and historical importance, it's also very rare; a lot of Radio Nurses were smashed during WWII for having a Jap name--Noguchi--on the back. Never mind that Noguchi was American... [Thanks for the tip, Eric!]

Zenith Radio Nurse by Isamu Noguchi [Metropolitan Museum of Art]
More history and photos of the Radio Nurse [uv201.com]

1 Comment

I was up late last night watching Antiques Roadshow, and, thanks to DaddyTypes intrepid reporting, I recognized the Noguchi Radio Nurse as soon as it appeared on the screen. The interesting part was that the owner also had the transmitter, which was not as attractively designed. Catch the Oklahoma City episode to check it out:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/roadshow/series/highlights/2004/oklahomacity/hour3.html

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