Whenever Noreen and I have attended a conference together, or spoken together (which is rare), she is surrounded by a coterie of fans. Of course, I’m typically waving and shouting, “I’m over here!” She’s always excited to meet new people, but isn’t so good at hearing compliments. Hard to believe, but she’s rather humble. The one compliment she has the most trouble accepting is when a young Asian woman tells her that she is her hero. This happens often. If I were a young Asian woman, I would say the same thing. I understand the issue, being someone’s hero, or ideal is a lot of pressure. One wrong word, and, bam, it’s over.
I remind Noreen that she said the same thing when she was starting out to Tomoko Miho. Whenever I see the movie, Two For the Road, with Audrey Hepburn, I think about Tomoko Miho. In the 1960s, she and the remarkable Jim Miho spent half a year touring Europe in a silver Porsche. They visited designers and must have been the chicest people in every restaurant or little village.
Miho’s work is lucid, minimal, true to international style modernism, and speaks with clarity. But it also allows for spontaneity and the unexpected. In her words, she “Joins space and substance. It is that harmony that creates the ringing clarity of statement that we sense as an experience, as a meaningful whole, as a oneness-as good design.” And, of course, she was Noreen’s hero.