Shiro Kuramata
Tokyo
From 1931 to 1991, Shiro Kuramata lived all too briefly as a designer in Tokyo. He found zones that were neither private homes nor public sites like schools and workplaces and gave them a unique value via his designs. In commonplace terms, his field was for bars, restaurants and fashion boutiques. Yet unlike any ordinary interior designer, Kuramata created every element of these spaces from zero in order to erase all trace of repetitive routine and liberate people from their everyday complacency. When asked about the concept behind a project—a brute, confrontational query he was asked with alarming frequency—he’d simply reply, “If I could say it in words, I wouldn’t be designing.” Or else, :”The meaning is for viewers to think about later.” He wasn’t reproducing some wholly pre-existent idea nor symbolically recombining metaphors; he generated things themselves in situ before us, events and objects as one-time-only phenomena—just like our lives. For this very reason, Kuramata especially cherished those who worked in concrete form. At Kuramata’s request, Takao Ishimaru formed a contracting company to handle all his interior works and execute his designs for housewares and furniture. Under his supervision, many workshops and talented professionals transformed glass, steel, acrylics and wood into objects of wonder—and themselves into rare artisans through realising Kuramata’s design challenges. These pieces now reissued by Living Divani epitomise such intuitive collaborative efforts. No trial-and-error test pieces remain, no works-in-progress—only these pure crystalisations of form. Not that Kurmata was merely toying with new techniques and materials. These things were instrumental for him to express a transparency between presence and absence. The almost animated curvature of pipes, the diaphanous delicacy of expanded metal, these were important tools for him to metamorphose and generate phenomena. And what do they mean? That he left for us to look and see and interpret for ourselves. He enjoyed the colour of sounds, he tasted the world via touch. His senses were far freer than than anything most of us know. Or rather not him, but his designs.