Book: Shiro Kuramata
by Tara Milroy / August 13, 2013
Japanese designer Shiro Kuramata created more than 600 works and interiors until his death in 1991, at the age of 56. His works, life, and legacy are chronicled in the two-part monograph Shiro Kuramata, in which Deyan Sudjic, director of London's Design Museum, discusses the designer's works and influences within the framework of post-war Japan's booming economy and flourishing creative culture.

(Click the images below for full sized images)


1968 Pyramid Furniture

Sudjic details Kuramata's inspirations and design process, as well as his techniques and innovative use of materials for which the designer became well-recognised. Kuramata's interiors, practically none of which still exist today, are revived by the author's intricate depiction of the spaces and the ambiance they created.

Sudjic also delves into the underlying motifs of dematerialisation, simplicity, and contradiction, all present in the designer's works. Kuramata attempted to create harmony in his designs, expressing both the Orient and the Western world, the avant-garde and the traditional, the humble and the extravagant, and the simple and the complex, all of which are touched upon by the author.


1970 Furniture in Irregular Forms

A major theme throughout the book is the way by which Kuramata challenged notions of design in Japan, while at the same time playing a key role in Japan's impact on global design culture. As Sudjic writes of the designer's unique position between the design philosophies of the two cultures, 'Kuramata was specifically Japanese in his thinking, in his origins and in his cultural references. But he was also fascinated by Western design traditions and was keen to measure himself against them, as his tributes to Josef Hoffmann and Piet Mondrian demonstrate. In the end, his real achievement was to give contemporary Japan a modern design language with which to address the world.'

Shiro Kuramata is an adventure into the thoughts and works of the designer himself; illustrating the wide-reaching influence of his designs, and testifying to the fact that they are still relevant today. As Sudjic describes the transcendental qualities of Kuramata's works, 'He was fascinated by the transformative possibilities of material and loved the idea of eliminating unnecessary distinctions in order to merge structure with surface, light with object. As a result his work has a timeless quality, continuously modern, not made redundant by shifting technologies.'



Published by Phaidon, Shiro Kuramata includes the first book by Deyan Sudjic along with selected writings by the designer himself, which are accompanied by a full-colour catalogue of Kuramata's works including photographs and sketches. The two books are packaged in an acrylic case, a nod to the designer's material of choice, and together they present an encapsulated view of Shiro Kuramata and the way by which he influenced a design culture that shaped him. Available at Amazon.

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