Shiro Kuramata Pays Homage to Austrian Architect Josef Hoffmann

While their aesthetics differed significantly, Hoffmann’s obsession with quality and high-level craftsmanship beg comparison to the likeminded ideals that Kuramata later championed.

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Mar 19 2019, 8:33pm

Born in Tokyo in 1934, Shiro Kuramata began working for a furniture company as a young man and later enrolled in the prestigious Kuwasawa Design School in the 1950s. While his earliest projects constituted countless bars, restaurants and clothing shops around Tokyo – namely for the brand Esprit and Japanese avant garde designer Issey Miyake – Kuramata’s career quickly expanded on an international stage. Widely recognized for his distinctive use of industrial materials and employment of novel construction techniques, Shiro Kuramata went on to become one of Japan’s most important designers of the 20th century.

While Kuramata’s trademark style is frequently categorized by its sleek and restrained space age appearance, his pieces were oftentimes realized through processes of meticulous craftsmanship and careful attention to detail rooted in centuries-old Japanese tradition. As his career developed throughout the latter half of the 20th century, Kuramata’s references remained uniquely classical and nostalgic, perhaps most evident in the two designs he created throughout the 1980s in homage to Austrian architect Josef Hoffmann.

Nearly a century before Shiro Kuramata emerged as a leading figure of contemporary design throughout the Far East, Josef Hoffmann rose to prominence as a founding member of the Vienna Secession. While their aesthetics differed significantly, Hoffmann’s obsession with quality and high-level craftsmanship beg comparison to the likeminded ideals that Kuramata later championed.

To see the full story on Josef Hoffmann 's influence on Shiro Kuramata on Minnie Muse click here.