Shiro Kuramata - Design Evening Sale London Monday, April 27, 2015 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Paul Hughes Fine Art, London
    Moore Gallery, Switzerland, 2014
    Acquired directly from the above by the present owner

  • Literature

    Ko Tanaka, ed., Star piece: sketch of image by Shiro Kuramata, Tokyo, 1991, passim for drawings
    Matthias Dietz and Michael Mönninger, Japanese Design, Cologne, 1994, front cover, pp. 74-75
    Shiro Kuramata 1934-1991, exh. cat., Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, 1996, pp. 26-27, 39-40, fig. 1, p. 48, p. 187, fig. 8, p. 192 , fig. 4
    Alexander von Vegesack, et al., eds., 100 Masterpieces from the Vitra Design Museum Collection, exh. cat., Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, 1996, p. 205
    Ettore Sottsass, 'An Exhibition Dedicated to Shiro Kuramata', Domus, no. 788, December 1996, p. 56
    Akari Matsuura, Japan Design to the new generation, Japan, 2001, p. 77
    'Kuramata's Tokyo', Domus, no. 858, April 2003, pp. 121, 126
    Phaidon Design Classics, Volume Three, London, 2006, no. 878 for an image and a drawing
    Jean-Louis Gaillemin, ed., Design Contre Design: Deux siècles de créations, exh. cat., Galerie Nationale du Grand Palais, Paris, 2007, p. 301
    Glenn Adamson and Jane Pavitt, eds., Postmodernism: Style and Subversion, 1970-1990, exh. cat., Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2011, p. 153
    Shiro Kuramata and Ettore Sottsass, exh. cat., 21_21 Design Sight, Tokyo, 2011, p. 68 for a drawing, p. 69, p. 208 for a detail, p. 211, fig. 27
    Deyan Sudjic, Shiro Kuramata: Essays & Writings, London, 2013, pp. 77, 104-105
    Deyan Sudjic, Shiro Kuramata: Catalogue of Works, London, 2013, p. 362, no. 541

  • Catalogue Essay

    Born in 1934, Shiro Kuramata is considered one of the foremost architect and designers of his generation. He developed his style and talent during a period of intense economic growth for Japan, Tokyo being the showcase of everything that was modern and fashionable, new and spectacular.

    Hi most famous design, the Miss Blanche chair, was inspired by the character of Miss Blanche DuBois from the film A Streetcar Named Desire, based on the homonym play by Tennessee Williams, which the designer saw in Tokyo in 1988. Two prototypes were initially made, one with shaped arms and one with a simple curved line, chosen for the 1988 exhibition KAGU Tokyo Designer’s Week. His experiments were focused especially on incorporating objects that together could produce strange reject effects and materials that could conserve themselves in time. During the early stages Kuramata used natural roses in glass blocks and eventually opted for fake roses embodied in acrylic; he believed fake materials best suited the concept of the ‘Miss Blanche’ chair: “it has to be fake because Blanche DuBois herself is a fake.” Acrylic was certainly one of the materials that inspired him the most, due to its qualities of ‘non-existence’ and its properties, allowing him to recreate the impression of floating objects: “The ideal is to have things float in the air without any support, like the chairs and musical instrument floating in the blue sky in Magritte’s paintings. That is the best, from there, design begins to evolve.” To commemorate the life of the artist, died at the age of 56, the edition was extended to a number of 56 examples.

    Examples of the ‘Miss Blanche’ chair are in the permanent collection of the Vitra Design Museum, the San Francisco MoMA, the New York MoMA, and the Dallas Museum of Art.

  • 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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'Miss Blanche' chair

circa 1991
Acrylic, synthetic roses, anodised tubular aluminium.
90.8 x 62.8 x 59.8 cm (35 3/4 x 24 3/4 x 23 1/2 in.)
Manufactured by Ishimaru Co., Tokyo, Japan. From the edition of 56.

£200,000 - 300,000 

Sold for £266,500

Contact Specialist
Meaghan Roddy
Head of Sale
New York
+44 20 7318 4027

Design Evening Sale

London Evening Sale 28 April 2015 6pm