Deyan Sudjic
Designed by Jonathan Hares
Phaidon Press, London, 2013, English
Nonfiction, Product/Industrial Design
1.7 x 12.8 x 14.2 inches, 2-volume hardcover edition in acrylic slipcase, 416 pages, 600 color illustrations
ISBN: 9780714845005
Suggested Retail Price: $150.00

From the Publisher. This first-ever monograph on highly influential Japanese designer Shiro Kuramata (1934-91) is a two-volume title presenting all of his compelling and idiosyncratic work for a diverse audience of designers and design enthusiasts who love Kuramata but will be surprised to discover the breadth and depth of his remarkable body of work.

On 1 book list
Norman Weinstein

To give equal billing to the book designer as well as author of this nonpareil two-volume monograph on the extraordinary Japanese designer Shiro Kuramata is understandable when you hold this set in your hands. The books are encased in an acrylic box, a reminder of the wondrous furniture and interior decorations Kuramata could derive from unsexy acrylic. But as with everything pertaining to Kuramata, there is more than meets the eye initially. Empty the acrylic box of its sturdily bound volumes, one largely history and analysis of the artist by the attuned design critic Deyan Sudjic, author of The Language of Things, the other a catalogue raisonné with around 600 of Kuramata’s designs). Hold the acrylic box so that its surfaces are exposed to a strong light source. The box becomes prismatic, creating a multi-hued light show you could also create by turning a beveled glass pane, bringing to mind all of the material differences as well as commonalities of glass and acrylic.

During Kuramata’s tragically short life and career (b. 1934 – d. 1991), he playfully yet fiercely worked designing objects, furniture, and interiors (the interiors, sadly, are all demolished now) that existed memorably in the interstices between ambiguously paradoxical material states and states of mind. Confounding the transparencies of acrylic and glass by creating bravura masterpieces like his “Glass Chair” and his acrylic “Miss Blanche” chair, he also intermingled sensations of weight and weightlessness in his chair fabricated from wire mesh and in his cabinets that seem to bend like reeds in a breeze. He also had an uncanny love, perhaps inspired by Joseph Cornell’s art boxes, of creating profuse and asymmetrically configured drawers for bureau-like furniture that resembled what storage units Alice might have discovered in Wonderland.

Mingling ancient and modern Japanese folk fantasy traditions with touches of European Minimalism, Kuramata created a totally beguiling range of objects and furniture with a light and mysterious touch. Deyan Sudjic and book designer Jonathan Hares deserve our gratitude for a monograph that re-animates the sense of wonder and mystery that suffused all Kuramata ever touched in his studio.

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