Japanese maestro of design and poet of material and form, Shiro Kuramata (1934–1991) transformed the field of design in postwar Japan by elevating everyday objects through touches of surrealism within a rigorous minimalist matrix. His body of work imbued traces of Japanese decorative arts and crafts with modernist simplicity and structural purity that strongly influenced the functionalist dogma “form follows function”.

My strongest desire is to be free of gravity, free of bondage. I want to float.

Kuramata’s attempts to defy gravity find formal expressions in transparent materials as glass, acrylic, aluminium, and steel mesh, and in experimenting with incorporating light. In these materials he explores boundaries between lightness and gravity, and between the material and the immaterial; these boundaries vibrate in his designs and produce a quiet and contemplative atmosphere of an aesthetic gentle humanness that is best described as refined poetry. Here, we showcase some of his minimalist designs that blur the line between sculpture and function.

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