Shiro Kuramata

Shiro Kuramata
born 1934 in tokyo between the wars, the son of an administrator
who became vice-director of a scientific institute, kuramata was
raised in japan. he received a traditional training in the woodcraft
department at tokyo's polytechnic high school, and then went on
to work in a furniture factory, the 'teikoku kizai company' (1953).
he pursued his studies in interior design at the 'kuwasawa design
school' in tokyo (1956) -institute that taught western concepts of
interior design- the he was hired by the small department store
'san-ai' as a designer of showcases as well as floor and window
displays (1957). after a brief stint as a freelance designer for the
retail giant 'matsuya department store' (1964) the following year
he opened his own design office in tokyo (1965).

during the 1970s and 80s, kuramata, alert to the revolutionary
possibilities of new technologies and industrial materials,
seized upon acrylic, glass, aluminum, and steel mesh to create
objects that appear to break free of gravity into airy realms of
transparency and lightness.
he was awarded with the 'mainichi industrial design prize' (1972)
design of the acrylic lamp 'oba-Q'/ghost (1972),
design of glass chair and glass table (1976)
he received the japan cultural design award (1981).

he was inspired by ettore sottsass’s playful spirit and love of
bright color and joined sottsass’s collective, the design group
'memphis', based in milan, at its founding in 1981.
sottsass was considered the italian designer to be his 'maestro.'

design of homage to hoffmann 'begin the beguine' (1985),
design of steel mesh chair 'how high the moon' (1986).
each of kuramata’s pieces is realized in a process of meticulous
craftsmanship and painstaking attention to detail that is rooted
in centuries-old japanese tradition.

the interior spaces he designed were as experimental as
his furniture: for example the series of boutiques he created for
the fashion designer issey miyake :
-the boutique in the bergdorf goodman department store
in new york (1984),
-the boutique in paris and
-the boutique at the seibu department store in shibuya, tokyo (1987).
in his desire to produce a transparent architecture, he attempted to
erase any traces of structure, eliminating doorknobs and other
elements he considered to be 'visual impurities.'
design of the acrylic/artificial roses chair 'miss blanche' (1988)
the french government awarded the kuramata the distinguished
'ordre des arts et des lettres' (1990).
between 1989 and his premature death in 1991, kuramata
produced the tinted aluminum 'laputa', design of a free standing
glass wash basin (1991),

as an endorsement of the high regard in which kuramata is held
amogst the connoiseurs of the art world, as 'miss blanche' was sold
at christies, london for £46'000 in 1997.
also , a 'how high the moon' two seater was sold for £12'650 at
bonhams london in 1998. this ranks kuramata amongst the most
desirable of artists/designers of the 20th century.



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