Shiro Kuramata (1934-91) was a truly exceptional designer of furniture and interiors. Many of his poetic, precise and unique pieces, like the expanded-metal-mesh How High the Moon Armchair and the acrylic, aluminium and paper-flower Miss Blanche Chair, are still highly prized, collected by museums like MoMA and the V&A and sold at auction. Sadly, however, most of the hundreds of interiors he designed no longer exist, and can only be glimpsed in photographs or described by those who saw them.
This combination of the precious and the disappeared is appropriate for a designer like Kuramata, whose work was neither modern nor nostalgic, neither western nor Asian, but which has a remarkable creative power as well as a sense of endless invention. This compelling and highly influential work is documented here in this beautiful monograph.
Author Deyan Sudjic, the director of the design museum in London and the author of many highly-acclaimed books on design and architecture, tells the story of Kuramata’s life against the backdrop of Japan’s turbulent history from the 1930s to the 1990s. It was a period in which the collapse of the repressive conformism of Japan’s traditionally authoritarian social order released a creative explosion that propelled Japan into the creative forefront in cinema, literature, fashion, architecture and design, and Kuramata’s work occupies a special place in this period.
Designed by Jonathan Hares, and presented in two volumes with a beautiful acrylic slipcase, the book includes all of Kuramata’s work, depicted in never-before-published photographs and drawings from the Kuramata archives. Many projects are represented with images of the design and manufacturing process, appropriate for this very technically inventive work that continues to be of interest to a wide range of designers. Shiro Kuramata is a major figure who richly deserves the wider audience he is just beginning to attract, and this first-ever monograph will be of a quality and beauty to match the work he produced.
Shiro Kuramata, by Deyan Sudjic, 2 volume hardback ediiton in acrylic slipcase, 305 x 238 mm (9 3/8 x 12 in), 416 pp, 600 colour illustrations, ISBN: 9780714845005, Published by Phaidon
Buy it here: Amazon
A Toronto family of five requested a cottage that is ‘modern and open’ but retains a quintessential ‘cottage feel’. The building was to be commodious and accommodate extended family but should avoid ostentation in scale and modernity. The Clear Lake Cottage proposes a simple tent-like envelope to house both program and outdoor spaces under a single vernacular form. A singular roof presents a child-like impression of house; rectilinear and ordered in symmetry while playfully skewed in volume. Nestled within a forest, the building is sculpted and stepped to take advantage of the land; modeling the natural grade. Open and closed faces respond to shoreline views or quiet wooded depths. Like a tent the porosity of the building’s envelope strengthens the experience of ‘cottage’.
Three volumes: a communal space, a bedroom bar, and a master suite are registered in response to the site to achieve views, separation, and privacy. The roof peak creates a sleeping loft, and enhances the communal space. The plan aligns a series of large sliding windows for summer cross ventilation. The tent-like ‘big top’ of the Douglas Fir interior has three exterior spaces carved into it to create sheltered outdoor areas. The relationship to site, the transition spaces, and operable transparent skin connects to this privileged landscape.
Clear Lake Cottage, Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada by MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects
The aim of the display system for the Manufacture of Sèvres is to enhance their four centuries of creation through a selection of 100 pieces. Reminiscent of the sunrise in Asia, the vaporised yellow gradation opens a vertical evasion of the space. The void created between the thin-edge plywood shelves and the light wire-cube structure, expresses the lightness and the impression of floating shelves.
Galerie de Sèvres – Cité de la Céramique, Paris, France, by A+A Cooren
Photography © Lorenz Cugini
Permanent installation. DC-motors, cotton balls, filler wires, power supply, lighting system, bench foundation, toluene tank (1951), Dottikon, Switzerland, by Zimoun
Candy Collection reinvents the steel reinforcement bars normally used for concrete structures. Thanks to an industrial coating process, the common and usually unattractive rusty steel bars are given a new and seducing identity. The Candy shelves explores beauty and simplicity of ready-available construction materials to make furniture. A commonly known bar, by means of a simple design and an industrial intervention, becomes a beautiful and classic piece of furniture. Surprisingly, the purely functional texture of the bar becomes a decorative element once painted.
The Candy shelves clearly refer to 1960’s furniture, through the use of a structure holding boards of varying and contrasted colours and finishes as well as perforated metal tray elements and accessories.
Candy Collection, by Sylvain Willenz, for Cappellini
This vacation home is set on the crest of a grassy knoll on a 160-acre site in Mendocino County. The goal was to preserve and enhance the natural beauty of the property by siting the retreat in a careful, simple, and unobtrusive manner. The 10-module home forms an L-shaped plan, framing views of a canopy of mature oak trees to the south and east.
The road leading to the house climbs the hill and ends at the carport at the home’s west end. A set of concrete stairs lead up a gentle grade from the carport to the entry deck, which runs along the north side of the home. The main volume is oriented east to west and arranged in an open plan. The living room, kitchen, and dining room collectively open southward onto a covered patio with an outdoor fireplace and pool area. From the main volume, the master bedroom extends to the north, following the edge of the hilltop and ending in a private deck that takes in the morning light from the east.
Long Valley Ranch utilizes a number of sustainable strategies and materials. Passive solar heating and cooling are achieved through use of concrete flooring, covered decks, and natural through breezes. A 17-kW solar array offsets the electricity usage of the house, and a tankless hot water heater provides on-demand water heating. Sustainable materials are used throughout, including recycled denim insulation and low-VOC paint.
Burton Residence, Mendocino County, California, USA, by Marmol Radziner
Photography © Joe Fletcher
“The name, Prehistoric Aliens, was inspired by Peru’s fantastic cultural heritage which often seems very mystical and ancient to our western eyes. The small coffee tables are almost like small spaceships that have just landed, with their leader, The Robot.”
Iittala is proud to debut Leimu, a new lighting piece by young Norwegian-born designer, Magnus Pettersen. As its flame-evoking name suggests, the copper-brown Leimu creates a relaxed atmosphere for enjoyable moments in good company. With its strong concrete base, the impressive glass lamp portion, inspired by traditional lampshades, makes Leimu a brand-new lighting fixture where sensitivity encounters strength.
Concrete is a captivating material for Pettersen: “It has a raw and cold feel to it. The union of glass and concrete is well known in architecture, but it isn’t necessarily always beautiful. I wanted to smoothly combine opposites in a lamp and show that fierce and sensitive, cold and warm can work well together.” Contrast fascinates Pettersen, whose studio is based in London. His style is referred to as “industrial luxury” because opposites are a recurring feature in his work. He looks at how well different materials or colours merge in an interesting and functional way without prejudice.
From a technical standpoint, harmonising the stem and glass portion was not easy. “Glass is a great material, but it is also very challenging because it is alive and it makes accurate dimensioning very difficult. However, through the know-how of and good communication with Iittala’s glass factory, we were able to combine concrete and glass into an elegant whole.”
The project is the addition of a dining room, reading room and two bedroom suites to an existing 1948 adobe-brick house. It employs the material and formal language developed for a previous addition (the ‘Box Office’) completed in 2011: spare, platonic boxes of a perceptual mass defined precisely at their junctions to openings with a material thinness.
Four volumes control view and orchestrate movement through their various internal and external alignments. The reading of the solid/void relationship oscillates between additive and subtractive processes–on the one hand understood as a series of connected volumes while on the other seen as an initially pure box from which two L-forms are removed. The result is a rhythmic reciprocity between interior space and garden.
TP-H Residence, Palo Alto, California, by Jermyn Manthripragada Architecture, Photography by Lucas Fladzinski
Galerie Vivid is very proud to be the first ever Dutch gallery to organize a comprehensive presentation of the Dutch architect’s original works. Many of his iconic designs will be on display. Amongst others his famous ‘Red–Blue’ chair, the ‘ZigZag’ chair and ‘Beugelstoel’. The works come from major Dutch private collections, most have never seen by the public before.
The generation that has known Gerrit Rietveld in person and worked with him is slowly disappearing. This exhibition will tell the story of these people, show their love for the work of Rietveld and let us admire the Rietveld furniture they collected. The collections represented include architects, previous employees of Rietveld’s architecture firm, teachers and traditional design dealers. One of the highlights of the exhibition will be Rietveld’s, monochrome black ‘rood-blauwe stoel’ designed in 1919, that was commissioned by the famous Dutch designer Kho Liang Ie in 1963.
Gerrit Th. Rietveld, Galerie VIVID, Rotterdam, Netherlands April 7 – June 2, 2013, via: Designartnews