Shiro Kuramata - KYOBAI, Japanese Art and Culture London Wednesday, April 2, 2008 | Phillips

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  • Literature

    Shiro Kuramata, exh. cat., Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, 2000, p. 60, pl. 15, p. 177, pl. 4 and p. 181, pl. 71 for examples of the chair; A. Bassi, ‘Shiro Kuramata, Il Design Trasparente’, Casabella, July/August 1999, p. 18 for a drawing of the model; C. and P. Fiell, 1000 Chairs, Cologne, 1997, p. 575; E. Sottsass, ‘Una Mostra Dedicata a Shiro Kuramata’, Domus, 1996, p. 55 for an example of the chair; K. B. Hiesinger and F. Fischer, Japanese Design: A Survey since 1950, exh. cat., Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, 1994, p. 163, no. 186; M. Dietz and M. Mönninger, Japan Design, Cologne, 1992, pp. 68-69 for an example of the chair

  • Catalogue Essay

    Kuramata’s design of How High the Moon displays strong roots in the geometric formal language of traditional Japanese design but links it to the style of the 1980s and contemporary movements through the use of modern industrial materials. His traditional background with its clean, minimalist lines is reflected in his rejection for ‘visual impurities’.The piece is an apparently seamless form composed of basic geometric patterns devoid of ornament. At the same time Kuramata plays with the illusion of weightlessness, almost transparency, due to carefully chosen materials, in this case metal mesh, which has a reflective nature, adding a further lightness to the piece. Kuramata explains the ideas behind the creation of the How High the Moon series: ‘The concept of decoration is weak inside me, but, by using mesh that proliferates like a cell within the process of eliminating, I’m discovering my own style of decoration’ (Hara Museum, 2000, p. 181). Kuramata’s title for the pieces alludes to Duke Ellington’s jazz composition, referencing the effects of light it emits as he has done before when connecting his Ms Blanche chair with its artificial roses embedded in Perspex to the vanity of Blanche Dubois.

  • 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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‘How High the Moon’ sofa

c. 1986

Nickel-plated expanded steel mesh, nickel-plated steel.

71 x 157 x 82 cm. (28 x 61 3/4 x 32 1/2 in).

Manufactured by Ishimaru Co. Ltd., Japan for Idée, Japan. From an edition of 30 sofas.
Of the edition of How High the Moon sofas approximately 23 were made in nickel plate, the remaining in copper.

£40,000 - 60,000 

Sold for £46,100

KYOBAI, Japanese Art and Culture

3 Apr 2008, 6pm