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Shiro Kuramata

Shiro Kuramata

*  1934 Tokio
† 1991 Tokio

Born in Tokyo in 1934, Shiro Kuramata studied architecture at Tokyo Polytechnic until 1953 and then spent a year working for the Japanese furniture manufacturer Teikokukizai. Shiro Kuramata subsequently studied interior decoration until 1956 at the Kuwazawa Institute of Design. From 1957 until 1963 Shiro Kuramata worked for the Maysuya department store in Tokyo. In 1965 Shiro Kuramata founded a design practice in Tokyo. He designed furniture and, as an interior decorator, designed more than three hundred bars and restaurants. In 1977 Shiro Kuramata became famous overnight worldwide for his "Drawer in an Irregular Form", a piece of storage furniture with a sinuous S-curve as its signature feature, made of ash stained black with drawer fronts lacquered white. In the 1980s, Shiro Kuramata again caused a sensation with designs executed in unusual materials. The "Miss Blanche" chair of transparent acrylic glass into which red paper roses have been molded, was a tour de force by Shiro Kuramata, a highly original and poetic piece of furniture. Another piece of Shiro Kuramata seat furniture is the 1986 "How High the Moon", notable for voluminous forms realized in nickel-plated expanded metal, sheet metal slotted and stretched into a mesh or lattice to achieve an astonishingly light and airy transparency. In 1976 Shiro Kuramata designed the "Glass chair", made entirely of slabs of glass glued together. In the 1980s, Shiro Kuramata designed several pieces of furniture for Memphis, which are both more sophisticated and, aesthetically speaking, reticent than most other designs produced by Memphis. Shiro Kuramata's Memphis designs include the "Kyoto" table (1983) of stained concrete and "Sally" (1987), a table made of metal and broken glass. From 1984 Shiro Kuramata designed for the Issey Miyake fashion boutiques in Paris, Tokyo, and New York. In 1988 Shiro Kuramata moved his design practice to Paris. His designs are executed by such distinguished firms as Aoshima Shoten, Cappellini, Fijiko, Ishimaru, Kurosaki, Mhoya Glass Shop, Vitra, and others.