Shiro Kuramata (1934–91) was a truly exceptional designer of furniture and interiors. Many of his poetic, precise and unique pieces, like the expanded-metal-mesh How High the Moon Armchair and the acrylic, aluminium and paper-flower Miss Blanche Chair, are still highly prized, collected by museums like MoMA and the V&A and sold at auction. Sadly, however, most of the hundreds of interiors he designed no longer exist, and can only be glimpsed in photographs or described by those who saw them.
This combination of the precious and the disappeared is appropriate for a designer like Kuramata, whose work was neither modern nor nostalgic, neither western nor Asian, but which has a remarkable creative power as well as a sense of endless invention. This compelling and highly influential work is documented here in this beautiful monograph.
Author Deyan Sudjic, the director of the design museum in London and the author of many highly-acclaimed books on design and architecture, tells the story of Kuramata’s life against the backdrop of Japan’s turbulent history from the 1930s to the 1990s. It was a period in which the collapse of the repressive conformism of Japan’s traditionally authoritarian social order released a creative explosion that propelled Japan into the creative forefront in cinema, literature, fashion, architecture and design, and Kuramata’s work occupies a special place in this period.
Designed by Jonathan Hares, and presented in two volumes with a beautiful acrylic slipcase, the book includes all of Kuramata’s work, depicted in never-before-published photographs and drawings from the Kuramata archives. Many projects are represented with images of the design and manufacturing process, appropriate for this very technically inventive work that continues to be of interest to a wide range of designers. Shiro Kuramata is a major figure who richly deserves the wider audience he is just beginning to attract, and this first-ever monograph will be of a quality and beauty to match the work he produced.
Deyan Sudjic is Director of the Design Museum, London and a former Dean of the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture at Kingston University. He was previously editor of Blueprint and Domus magazines, and Director of the Venice Architecture Biennale (2002). Former architecture critic for the Observer, he has written and contributed to many books, including The Language of Things (2008) and The Edifice Complex: The architecture of power (2005), as well as Living in the Endless City (2011), The Endless City (2008) Future Systems (2006), John Pawson Themes and Projects (2002), John Pawson Works (2000), all published by Phaidon.