When John Pawson met Shiro Kuramata

Deyan Sudjic describes the Japanese designer's influence, and his mentoring of one Brit in particular. . .
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John Pawson (left) and Shiro Kuramata (right)
John Pawson (left) and Shiro Kuramata (right)

There's a great piece in The Financial Times, in which Deyan Sudjic, the director of the Design Museum and author of our brilliant new Shiro Kuramata book describes the thinking behind the new monograph. Kuramata, as if you needed telling, was one of the most important Japanese furniture and interiors designers of the 20th century.

In the FT piece Sudjic contrasts Western attitudes towards Japanese design today, with those of 30 years ago. This isn't arbitrary; The Aram Gallery in central London first put on a show of the late Japanese designer's work in the early 1980s; today it's restaging the exhibition until 10 July. When it was first shown, Sudjic writes Japan "was understood, much like China was until recently, as a country of copyists and low-cost production."

The cover of our Kuramata book features his 1976 laminated glass chair
The cover of our Kuramata book features his 1976 laminated glass chair

Our perceptions have, of course, altered since then, Kuramata, a ground-breaking designer whose simple, modern works are tempered with exquisite colour choices and bold forms - helped alter the way Japanese design is perceived globally.

One significant early champion was architect and Phaidon author John Pawson. As Sudjic writes in the piece, the Englishman "spent several months in Japan, hanging around in Kuramata's studio or, as he puts it, trying not to get in the way. When Pawson returned to London and designed his first flat in a stucco-fronted Victorian terrace, he telephoned Kuramata for advice on which particular shade of violet to paint the cornice."

Shiro Kuramata, Oba-Q Lamp (1972)
Shiro Kuramata, Oba-Q Lamp (1972)

You can read the whole article here, and, if you're suitably intrigued, hear Pawson discuss his admiration for Kuramata at The Design Museum on 2 July. Book tickets here. For more on the London exhibition, go here. And to discover more about Kuramata's life and work, of course you should pick up a copy of our beautiful book, the first-ever complete monograph on this influential Japanese designer, which comes in two volumes and a specially designed acrylic slipcase. If you're a Phaidon Club member look out for our story about the book's production in this week's email. (If you're not, sign up here). Finally, for more on Pawson's work, consider our many books by this great British architect.


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