Shiro Kuramata - Design / Design Art New York Thursday, December 14, 2006 | Phillips

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  • Literature

    Shiro Kuramata 1934-1991, exh. cat., Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, 1996, pp. 70 and 181

  • Catalogue Essay

    Kuramata had a talent for using vacancy as a creative tool. As seen in the “Just In Time” clock, his dematerialized and surreal designs mix Bauhaus theories of simplicity with his modern, Eastern cultural perspective. "Just in time was designed for 'Clocks by 31 Artists' held at the Matsuya Design Gallery in 1986. For the hour hand of the first clock, Kuramata pulled out of his pocket some twigs that looked like something he'd found while walking, and for the second hand he used some kind of bristle (what could they be?), experimenting repeatedly so that when the hands moved they would create a gentle arc. The clock was like a free-forming picture, changing according to the time it showed. Kuramata was very fond of this clock and, for a long while, liked to have one near him."(Shiro Kuramata 1934-1991, exh. cat., p. 78)

  • Artist Biography

    Shiro Kuramata

    Japanese • 1934 - 1991

    Shiro Kuramata is widely admired for his ability to free his designs from gravity and use materials in ways that defied convention. After a restless childhood, his ideas of being an illustrator having been discouraged, Kuramata discovered design during his time at the Teikoku Kizai Furniture Factory in Arakawa-ku in 1954. The next year he started formal training at the Department of Interior Design at the Kuwasawa Design Institute. His early work centered on commercial interiors and window displays. In 1965, at the age of 31, he opened his own firm: Kuramata Design Office.

    Throughout his career he found inspiration in many places, including the work of Italian designers (particularly those embodying the Memphis style) and American conceptual artists like Donald Judd, and combined such inspirations with his own ingenuity and creativity. His dynamic use of materials, particularly those that were transparent, combination of surfaces and awareness of the potential of light in design led him to create objects that stretched structural boundaries and were also visually captivating. These qualities are embodied in his famous Glass Chair (1976).

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"Just in Time" clock

ca. 1986
Melamine board, twigs, wool yarn, nylon string.
20 1/2 x 14 1/2 x approx. 3 in. (52.1 x 36.8 x approx. 7.6 cm)

$8,000 - 12,000 

Sold for $14,400

Design / Design Art

14 Dec 2006, 2pm
New York