Shiro Kuramata

Japan 1934-1991

Born in Tokyo in 1934, Shiro Kuramata studied architecture at Tokyo Polytechnic until 1953 and then spent a year working for the Japanese furniture manufacturer Teikokukizai. He subsequently studied interior decoration until 1956 at the Kuwazawa Institute of Design. From 1957 until 1963 Kuramata worked for the Maysuya department store in Tokyo. In 1965 he founded a design practice in Tokyo to design furniture and, as an interior decorator, he designed more than three hundred bars and restaurants. In 1977 Kuramata became famous overnight worldwide for his "Drawer in an Irregular Form", a piece of storage furniture with a sinuous S-curve as its signature feature. In the 1980s, he again caused a sensation with designs executed in unusual materials. The "Miss Blanche" chair of transparent acrylic glass into which red paper roses have been molded, was a tour de force by Kuramata, a highly original and poetic piece of furniture. Another piece of Kuramata seat furniture is the 1986 "How High the Moon", notable for voluminous forms realized in nickel-plated expanded metal, sheet metal slotted and stretched into a mesh or lattice to achieve an astonishingly light and airy transparency. In 1976 he designed the "Glass chair", made entirely of slabs of glass glued together. In the 1980s, he designed several pieces of furniture for Memphis, which are both more sophisticated and, aesthetically speaking, reticent than most other designs produced by Memphis. From 1984 Kuramata designed for the Issey Miyake fashion boutiques in Paris, Tokyo, and New York. In 1988 he moved his design practice to Paris. His designs are executed by such distinguished firms as Aoshima Shoten, Cappellini, Fijiko, Ishimaru, Kurosaki, Mhoya Glass Shop, Vitra, and others.