Shiro Kuramata’s art furniture is an influence of Western design while combining them with traditional Japanese aesthetics, to produce items of furniture that are surreal, humorous, and often poetic.
Kuramata has born in Tokyo in 1934 where he grew up during World War II and the American Occupation of Japan. In 1953 he graduated from Tokyo polytechnic high school, where he studied woodcraft and went to work for a furniture company.
Kuramata’s approach to the composition of furniture and interiors revolutionized design in postwar Japan. Kuramata reassessed the relationship between form and function, imposing his own vision of surreal and minimalist ideals on everyday objects. During the 1970s and 80s, Kuramata, alert to the numerous possibilities of new technologies and industrial materials, turned to acrylic, glass, aluminum, and steel mesh to create objects that appear to break free of gravity into airy realms of transparency and lightness. Kuramata became closely associated with this style in 1981 when he joined Ettore Sottsass’s Memphis Group, an Italian collective that included designers such as Michele de Lucchi, Andrea Branzi, and Nathalie du Pasquier.
Kuramata’s furniture and interiors have been influential both in his native country and abroad. Kuramata’s Miss Blanche chair (1988), a transparent resin chair flecked with synthetic roses, creates the appearance of a sitter floating on a cloud of blooms. In a design for two chests of drawers, Furniture in Irregular Forms (1970), the stark black-and-white lacquered finish is a nod to the severity of modern furniture, while the undulating shapes capture a more lighthearted attitude. The whimsical spirit of Kuramata’s designs is typical of postmodernism.