A hugely influential design figure, Shiro Kuramata was instrumental in cementing Japan’s status as an international exporter of creativity. During post-war Japan – a time of renewed experimentation – he propelled Japanese design towards the future. Today, Kuramata’s pieces are highly coveted by collectors. (An interior he designed for a sushi restaurant in Tokyo was once purchased in its entirety by British collector Richard Schlagman.)
Design enthusiasts in Hong Kong will be pleased to know that they will have the opportunity to appreciate one of Kuramata’s most iconic pieces, the Miss Blanche chair (pictured above), at Phillips‘ 20th century and contemporary art and design sale on May 28 at the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong.
The Sofa with Arms. Image courtesy of Cappellini
Arguably the pinnacle of Kuramata’s work, the Miss Blanche chair is so named after the tragic delusional beauty Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire. It perfectly embodies Kuramata’s poetic approach to materiality and exemplifies the surrealism of some of his designs – the flowers appear to float suspended in mid-air, defying the laws of gravity. Minimalist, yet delicate and complex, the chair represents experimental modernity while also maintaining the simplicity and elegance of traditional Japanese design.
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Though the design of Miss Blanche appears light and effortless, in reality the techniques employed were time consuming and intensely technical. Keen to utilise the modern materials at his disposal at the time, Kuramata and his team poured liquid acrylic resin into a mould. Adding the right amount of hardening solution to the mixture required plenty of trial and error. The first batch yielded only eight chairs, with another 48 following. Only 56 pieces were ever made, some of which are showcased at the Vitra Design Museum and MoMA.
Swipe through our slideshow below for more more of Kuramata’s ingenious designs:
How High the Moon Chair for Vitra
Pyramid shelves for Ishamaru
The Laputa bed for Ephemera
Table for the Esprit house. Image courtesy of Wright Auctions
Public view: 10am-6pm, 25-28 May. Auction: 7pm, 28 May. Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, 1/F & 2/F, 5 Connaught Rd Central, Central.
Lead image courtesy of Phillips Hong Kong