about Shiro Kuramata

SHIRO KURAMATA (1934 - 1991)

Shiro Kuramata was born in Japan in 1934 and was one of the most important Japanese designers of the 20th century. Until 1953 Kuramata studied architecture at the Polytechnic in Tokyo and worked for the furniture manufacturer Teikokukizai for one year. After that Kuramata continued his education and studied again. In 1956 Shiro Kuramata graduated from the Kuwazawa Institute for Design in Tokyo and got a degree in living design.

Before he opened his own design studio in 1965, he worked for the department store “Maysuya” in Tokyo for six years. As an interior designer Kuramata designed over 300 interior furnishings for bars and restaurants over the years. His design studio soon also produced furniture: in 1977 Shiro Kuramata finally made his international breakthrough with his furniture design “drawer in an irregular form“; an S-shaped piece of furniture made of stained, black ash wood with white lacquered drawers.   

In the following years, especially in the 1980s, Shiro Kuramata internationally made a name for himself by designing furniture made of very unusual materials. His chair “Miss Blanche” for example, shows little paper roses embedded in transparent acrylic resin; like that he managed to create a witty, innovative and at the same time poetic piece of furniture. Miss Blanche was produced in a limited edition and therefore this Kuramata design reaches highest prices at auctions today.

In 1986 Shiro Kuramata presented his armchair „How High The Moon“ – an armchair completely made of  see-through steel mash. The combination of the expanded forms of the armchair and the transparent steel mash creates a fascinating lightness. Today this icon of Japanese design is still edited by Vitra.

Already in 1984 Shiro Kuramata designed the interior for Issey Miyake boutiques in New York, Tokyo and Paris. In 1988 Kuramata finally moved to Paris himself: there he opened his own design studio in Rue Royal and amongst other things designed some pieces for Cappellini.

Shiro Kuramata died in 1991. Six years later his chair “Miss Blanche“ was sold for $86,000 at Christie’s in London: since then Kuramata has been regarded not only as one of the most successful but also as one of the most expensive designers of the 20th century.