Shiro Kuramata, Miss Blanche, 1988, Collection of Toyama Prefectural Museum of Art and Desing. ©Kuramata Design Office
A chair, with artificial roses encased in transparent acrylic resin; another chair made solely by combining panes of glass, 49 drawers, set in compartments in a slightly irregular-sized grid; a clock with seven hands. Initially we are surprised, then break into a smile, and then, after a while, realize that each item remains perfectly functional.
Shiro Kuramata (1934-1991) designed this kind of unconventional furniture, and numerous highly distinctive interiors. He set up his studio as an independent designer in 1965, continually maintaining close contact with contemporary artists as he created a body of work that departed from a conventional design focus on functionality and formal appearance. In the 1980s he participated in the Italian design movement,‘Memphis’, gaining rapid worldwide recognition. Collected by museums around the globe, Kuramata’s work is still held in high regard in Japan and overseas.
This exhibition, held more than 30 years after Kuramata’s death, not only presents his furniture and interiors, but also material like his drawings and dream journals which provide a glimpse of the sources for his creative work. With the aid of the artist’s own words, sometimes dubbed ‘the analects of Kuramata’, it surveys the designer’s entire career from before he turned independent, through to his untimely death in 1991. We hope that looking anew at the work of Kuramata the artist, and Kuramata the man, will provide an opportunity to rediscover the potential of design itself.