The bed is the most private of spaces. It is in bed that we have sex, procreate, dream, and rejuvenate. The space is a veritable cauldron of activities, a window into the far reaches of our personalities. However, for such an... [more]
The bed is the most private of spaces. It is in bed that we have sex, procreate, dream, and rejuvenate. The space is a veritable cauldron of activities, a window into the far reaches of our personalities. However, for such an essential instrument, beds are usually pretty boring affairs geared towards their utilitarian function.
This is not so of Shiro Kuramata's "Lamputa." Named from one of the islands in "Gulliver's Travels," "Lamputa" is an elongated bed designed so that two people sleep either toe-to-toe or head-to-head; it is too thin for a couple to lie together. Emptiness, space, and transparency -- the bed evokes both intimacy and isolation. The overall effect is playfully surreal, a juggling of familiar values. It is no wonder that Kuramata has been called "the poet of creative vacancy." He seemed to design objects with no other intent than to make them look as cool as possible.
Born in 1934, Kuramata was one of Japan's leading furniture and interior designers. He studied architecture at the Tokyo Municipal Polytechnic High School until 1953, then trained in living design at the Kuwasawa Institute till 1956. After founding his own design firm in 1965, he began creating furniture and interiors for more than 300 bars and restaurants. Coming out of the WWII generation, he focused on Japan's technological pursuits while casting an eye to Western culture. Minimalism, Duchamp, Abstract Expressionism -- all led to Kuramata's topsy-turvy worldview.
By combining Japanese minimalism with the hodge-podge nature of Modernism, Kuramata transformed industrial objects into things of wonder. His extraordinary 'Drawers in an Irregular Form' (1977) was one of the first pieces to bring him international recognition. The name of the piece is misleading, however. Although the chest is certainly whimsical, it's hardly irregular. The slender column slithers in a whispered s-shape -- it curves subtly in perfect balance, almost like an elongated yin-yang.
In the 1980s, Kuramata continued on this minimalist track, but began employing unusual materials like steel expand-metal and acrylic resin. Furniture with remarkable spatial qualities, such as the hollowed mesh 'How High The Moon' chair, was the result. In usual Kuramata fashion, the chair's title winks at Western culture by referencing the famous Duke Ellington jazz number. For such refined yet joyous designs, Kuramata was awarded the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in 1990. [show less]