Shiro Kuramata

1934 — 1991

Shiro Kuramata was a famous Japanese postmodernist designer, member of the Memphis band.

Born in Tokyo. Until 1953, he studied as an architect at the Tokyo Polytechnic University, then joined the TEIKOKUKIZAI furniture company. Until 1956 he studied at the Kuwasawa Design School. From 1957 to 1963, he collaborated with the Tokyo Matsuya department store. In 1965, opened his own design studio in Tokyo.

Kuramata is known as a furniture designer, but he was primarily an interior designer: he designed over 300 bars and restaurants. Since 1984, he has collaborated with Issey Miyake, designing stores around the world for him. The founder of this brand and friend Shiro Kuramata, Issei Miyake, later recalled that already in the 60s Kuramata was a celebrity in Tokyo.

In 1981, Zeev Aram exhibited 19 works by Shiro Kuramata in London. In the same year, the Memphis group invited the Japanese Shirou Kuramate, Arat Isozaki and Masanori Umede to design objects for their collections; a year later, the founder of the group, Ettore Sottsass, met with Japanese designers in Tokyo. As a remote member of the Memphis group, Kuramata designed several objects, in particular, the Kyoto and Nara tables.

In 1988 he moved to Paris. In 1990 he was awarded the French Order of Arts and Letters. Shortly after the death of Shirou Kuramata, in 1996, his personal exhibition opened at the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo, which was then shown in many countries.

As a furniture designer, Shiro Kuramata is known for experiments with material and technology: the surfaces of tables for Memphis are made using the terrazzo technique, the Miss Blanche chair (1988) is made of transparent acrylic, which is fused with paper flowers, the How High the Moon chair and Sing Sing Sing chair (1986 ) – from steel expanded metal sheet. Kuramata’s works are in the collections of the Pompidou Center in Paris, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Vitra Design Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum.