Shiro Kuramata - Design Masters New York Monday, December 10, 2012 | Phillips

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  • Literature

    Andrea Branzi, Il Dolce Stil Novo della Casa, (A Proposal for a New Life), exh. cat., Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, 1991, n.p.
    Domus (Milan), no. 788, December 1996, p. 54, fig. 3
    Shiro Kuramata 1934–1991, exh. cat., Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, 1996, pp. 28–29, 84–85 fig. 37, p. 198, fig. 2
    Shiro Kuramata and Ettore Sottsass, exh. cat., 21_21 Design Sight, Tokyo, 2011, n.p.

  • Catalogue Essay

    The ‘Laputa’ bed was renowned Japanese designer Shiro Kuramata’s final furniture design and a response to his bedroom brief at the group exhibition ‘Il Dolce Stil Novo della Casa’ (A Proposal for a New Life), curated by Andrea Branzi for Pitti Immagine at the Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, 1991. As with his ‘Miss Blanche’ chair, the ‘Laputa’ bed draws inspiration from literature. Laputa is the flying island from Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. The island, which has a base made from the mythical material adamantine, hovers above the land of Balnibarbi. Looking at the body of Kuramata’s work and his practice, it is possible to draw parallels with both of the above concepts: levitation (defying a physical force), and adamantine, a mythical material that shackled or destroyed the most formidable characters from Ancient Greek mythology to the Classics. Wrapped in the ‘Star Piece’ satin and with a high metallic surface finish, ‘Laputa’ has an extraterrestrial appearance as galvanized in outer space, and, as the artist intended, the elongated form creates a dreamlike sense of levitation. The physical appearance of the bed is very similar to the bed in Marcel Duchamp’s painting Apolinère Enameled of 1916–1917. The reference to this assisted readymade displays Kuramata’s ability to combine multiple cultural references into a single object.

  • 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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'Laputa' bed

Alumite-coated tubular aluminum, Alumite-coated tubular metal, Alumite-coated metal, brushed aluminum.
57 1/2 x 166 1/2 x 27 in (146.1 x 422.9 x 68.6 cm)
Manufactured by Ishimaru Co., Japan. Together with silk ‘Star Piece’ bedding by Shiro Kuramata. From the edition of 30.

$80,000 - 120,000 

Sold for $98,500

Design Masters

11 December 2012
New York