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Shiro Kuramata

(1934—1991)


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(1934–91)

An internationally recognized Japanese furniture and interior designer, Kuramata studied woodwork in Tokyo Polytechnic High School before finding employment in the Teikoku Kizai furniture factory in 1953. He then studied interior design at the Kuwasawa Design School in Tokyo in 1956, prior to working for San‐Ai department store in 1957 where he designed showcase and window displays. After freelancing for the Matsuya department store in 1964 he set up his own design studio in Tokyo in 1965 and soon established a reputation as a furniture designer of originality. A comparatively early design was his soft, experimental, and anti‐functionalist ‘S’ curved Furniture in Irregular Forms: Side 2 Chest of Drawers in lacquered wood of 1970. He also used industrial materials in his work, particularly steel mesh, as in his almost transparent, seemingly lightweight, and evocatively poetic How High the Moon armchair for Vitra in 1986. His painstaking eye for detail, precision, and craftsmanship reflect very Japanese characteristics. Other materials with which he experimented included glass, acrylic (including the Miss Blanche chair of 1988) and aluminium (including the tinted Laputa aluminium and tinted glass washbasin of 1991). Kuramata also became widely known as an innovative interior designer, with a series of experimental designs for clubs and boutiques, including those for fashion designer Issey Miyake in New York (in the Bergdorf Goodman department store, New York, 1984), Tokyo (in the Seibu department store Shibuya, 1987), and Paris. He worked in an idiom in tune with the language of the international avant‐garde, producing designs for the Italian Memphis group from 1981 to 1983. His awards included the Mainichi Design Prize in 1972 and the French government's Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1990.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.


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