Trend Spotting: Rice Paper Lanterns Are an Interior Designers’ Secret Weapon

Time Several Hours

Budget $ $$$

Skill Level

WORDS BY Kelsey Clark

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Published on June 24, 2022

As designers, trend spotting is a part of our jobs. And today, we’re shedding a spotlight on the humble rice paper pendant light. Originally designed by Isamu Noguchi in the 1950s, this enduring mid-century modern classic has made a major comeback in the last decade or so. Just scroll through Instagram for evidence — top designers and design lovers alike favor the fixture, including Leanne Ford, Sarah Sherman Samuel, and countless others.

“The rice paper pendant light has come a long way,” says Havenly lead designer Kasee Smith. “They’re the perfect choice when searching for an oversized yet airy design element to bring in ambient lighting and a soft silhouette.” Plus, the more fragile lantern design has undergone a modern upgrade — you can now shop this classic style in durable vinyl, plastic, nylon, and more, which are great for outdoor use. 

Assuming you don’t need any more convincing (I mean honestly, just look at them), bring home the timeless trend with a few affordable and designer-approved rice paper pendant lights:

1. Design Within Reach Paper Lantern

rice paper pendant light

Though not a Noguchi original (which you can still find with a little digging), this rice paper pendant from Design Within Reach is an authentic, stunning option. It’s effective, classic, and beautiful in its simplicity — go all-in on an oversized orb in your dining room, main bedroom, living space, or home office. 

2. Daughtry Single Globe Pendant

rice paper pendant light

For a slightly updated take on the look, consider this globe pendant light from Wayfair. With criss-crossed seams and a cream exterior, this piece offers a fresh take on the timeless fixture without breaking the bank. Because this design leans larger in scale, we recommend pairing it with smaller patterns in a room. 

3. Moonpaper Oversized Pendant Light

rice paper pendant lightFor more of an exposed bulb situation that gives off more light, this half circle option from Crate & Barrel works wonders. It still channels the look, while accommodating shorter ceiling heights and limited space. 

4. Rice Paper Orb Pendant Light

rice paper pendant light

If you’re looking to cluster a few rice paper pendants together, opt for this smaller option from Urban Outfitters. The petite 14-inch diameter is a great fit for small bathrooms, guest rooms, or dining nooks, and we particularly love the imperfect, vintage-inspired color and construction.

5. Rice Paper Ellipse Pendant

rice paper pendant light

If you’re in need of an oversized pendant fit for a grand dining room or living space with tall ceilings, meet your match. This oval rice paper pendant light was designed for large rooms and will make a grand statement while still offering that graceful, ambient touch. To up the ante even further, install an ornate ceiling medallion before hanging.

From trending lighting to perfecting room flow, our designers are chock-full of expert tips. Start with our style quiz to work with a design pro one-on-one.

Words by Kelsey Clark