Kuramata furniture in irregular formsUntil 10 July, the Aram Gallery in London is showcasing a collection of pieces by Japanese designer Shiro Kuramata.  The designs each exude an appreciation of the value of decorative traditional Japanese art, an interest for Western art and design, as well as the simplicity and purity of shapes derived from contemporary Japanese design, which itself draws inspiration from the “form follows function” principle.

Kuramata is widely known for his use of new materials in creating his furniture pieces, such as steel wire meshing or poly(methyl methacrylate), a transparent thermoplastic similar to glass. Shiro Kuramata´s minimalist ideas intermingle with other concepts such as the influence of light on an object, transparency and the momentary, or the feeling of weightlessness. Kuramata himself explains, “my greatest wish would be to feel liberated from all ties, to challenge gravity and be able to float.” From this comes his desire to experiment with new materials, through which he is able to translate his own particular relationship between form and function onto minimalist and surrealist ideas, applying them to objects used in daily life.

Shiro Kuramata flower vasesKuramata studied model-making at the Tokyo Polytechnic and later pursued further study and specialisied in interior design at the Kuwasawa Design School, also located in the Japanese capital. Following a short period of work experience, Kuramata decided to open his own design studio in 1965. Inspired by the work of Ettore Sottsass, in 1981 Kuramata joined the Memphis group founded by the Italian designer and architect in Milan. Interior spaces designed by Kuramata bring together the same conventional and experimental features visible in the rest of his work. His most noteworthy interiors include the series of boutiques created for fashion designer Issey Miyake from 1976.

Throughout his career, Kuramata has received numerous prizes including the Chevalier des Artes et des Letres, a prestigious medalion awarded to him by the French government in 1990. His chair “Miss Blanche” was sold by Christie´s in 1997 for £46,000, equivalent to approximately €53,580 (in 2013).

The Shiro Kuramata exhibition in The Aram Gallery (London) until 10 July.