The name of this chair, Miss Blanche, pays tribute to the dress worn by the actress Vivien Leigh [1913-1967] in her role as Blanche DuBois in the film A Streetcar Named Desire, [1951]. This had been adapted from the theatre play of the same name, written by American playwright Tennessee Williams [1947]. Born into the aristocracy of the American Deep South, Blanche DuBois is a tragic character. Due to her family’s financial misadaventures, she finds herself thrust into the working-class environment inhabited by her sister. Although totally at odds with these new surroundings, she strives to retain her idealism, purity and innocence. Refusing to see herself as she really is, she creates an illusory, idealised version of reality. This is perfectly illustrated by Kuramata’s chair. The chair is formed from a block of acrylic [PMMA], which had been poured into a mould. The artificial flowers embedded into it appear to float, suspended in space. By choosing this material, Shiro Kuramata sought to disregard the constraints of gravity and density. It seems as if his aim was to conceptualise the object in some way, by suggesting it rather than showing it. Through this piece, Shiro Kuramata implies that a transparent, light, even ethereal element is capable of supporting or even mobilising our bodies. It is therefore suggested that this invisible element may play a weightier and more important role than any visible section. This investigation is illustrated here by the finesse of the metal legs that support the 70-kilo PMMA structure.

SHIRO KURAMATA [1934-1991] was a Japanese designer based in Tokyo. In 1981, he began participating in the activities of the Memphis Group. These ventures, in addition to his collaborations with Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake [b.1938] brought him fame in Europe. His quest centered on simplicity and purity, even on achieving a type of absolute. One of the ways in which this manifests itself is through a semblance of eliminating gravity. He accomplished this by piercing his creations so that light filtered through them, or by using transparent materials. At a technical level, Shiro Kuramata combined Japanese tradition with Western influences and new technology. Rather than using bamboo, wood, lacquer or steel, he chose acrylic for the optical effects it produces. As a result, his meticulously detailed pieces have a poetic quality.

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