I’m been researching Asian American and Asian furniture designers and artisans. Grasshopper and Sensei is enjoying the finds I am discovering and now she’s even talking about being an architect or furniture designer someday when she grows up. It’s not just the beautiful forms I’m searching for; it’s also the stories behind the designs.
Take George Nakashima who is a recent discovery for me. A Japanese American, he was forced into concentration camps when his youngest was just 6 weeks old. He and his family ended up settling in Pennsylvania where he started building his compound, one stone at a time. Today, he is considered the father of the American Craft movement.
His pieces tell a story of time, the uniqueness of each tree, and the artisan who brings that story to life. They have a timeless quality that really appeals to me. You can really fall in love with his work.
George Katsutoshi Nakashima (Japanese: 中島勝寿 Nakashima Katsutoshi, May 24, 1905 – June 15, 1990) was a Japanese-American woodworker,architect, and furniture maker who was one of the leading innovators of 20th century furniture design and a father of the American Craft movement.
I love this dining room table and the chairs as well. George talks about bringing the soul of a tree to life. What a wonderful way to think about furniture making!
My next discovery was designer Danny Fang. He lives in Hong Kong. Is this light fixture not spectacular? He says, “I found a photo of a flamenco girl throwing her dress all around with great power and expression. This photo inspired me to make a light with similar drama and expression to spice up our modernistic world. To achieve this theatre and energy we had to develop new materials. Through an intricate process of working on the materials, we created petals made of fabric that we could mould in any shape, diffused the light and defied gravity. This light wants to dance in freedom, so give her space to work her gipsy magic.”
Hive Suspension Light
I can picture this above the George Nakashima dining room table. What do you think?
Masanori Umeda was born in 1941 at Kanagawa in Japan. The Japanese designer Masanori Umeda took his diploma in design at the Kuwasawa Design School in Tokyo in 1962. Afterwards he went to Italy, where he worked in the Milan design practice of Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni from 1967 until 1969. From 1970 until 1979, ist Masanori Umeda worked as a design consultant for Olivetti, where he met Ettore Sottsass, who invited Umeda to show work at the first “Memphis” exhibition in 1981.
That year, 1981, Masanori Umeda designed “Tawaraya” for Memphis, seat furniture in the form of a boxing ring. The founding members of Memphis are shown in it in a celebrated Memphis group photo.
Another Masanori Umeda design for Memphis is “Ginza” (1982), a shelving system in the form of a robot. Masanori Umeda has also designed a great many ceramic objects, including the “Orinoco” vase and the “Parana” bowl (both 1983).
In 1986, Masanori Umeda returned to Japan and opened U-Meta Design, his Tokyo practice. For Edra entwirft Masanori Umeda designed “Getsuen”, “Rose”, and “Orchid”, poetically playful, flower-shaped armchairs, in 1990-91.
Masanori Umeda Rose Chair
Grasshopper and Sensei and I swoon over this chair. It invites coziness and reading, don’t you think?
Kappei (Katsuhei) Toyoguchi
Recognized as one of Japan’s pioneers of modern design, Kappei Toyoguchi was born in 1905. Much of the foundational data derived from research conducted by Toyoguchi and his staff involving furniture design was later adopted and incorporated into the JIS (Japan Industrial Standards).
Shiro Kuramata is one of Japan’s most important designers of the 20th century. Kuramata was mainly known for his use of industrial materials such as wire steel mesh and lucite to create architectural interiors and furniture.
GLASS TABLE COFFEE TABLE
Leonard Theosabrata graduated from the Product Design Faculty at the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA in 2002. His love for furniture has led him to build the Accupunto brand. Hard worker and curious, Leonard’s passion for design led him to direct the studio LTD in which he is in charge of product design for major Asian brands. Known as one of the most promising Asian designers, Leonard’s work is published in the book “Young Asian Designer” published by DAAB Germany. Recently, he was also chosen as one of five young Asians to be the face of Deutsche Welle’s new channel, DW-TV Asia+.
Leo Theosabrata comes from a long line of furniture makers and inherits his love of the craft from his father, Yos, who spent 30 years in the business. After graduating from art school in Pasadena, Leo created his own line of furniture under the Accupunto brand and started the LTD studio focused on interior and product design. His latest venture is The Goods Dept, a project he launched with several friends to discover talented local designers and provide them a sophisticated space in which to sell their goods at affordable prices. In this talk, Leo makes the case that there’s no time like the present for Indonesians to make their mark on the global design scene.
Lorida Lounge Chair
Slim 3-Seater Bench
I’m still searching for more Korean or Korean American furniture designers. Soomi from George Nakashima recommended Jeongsup Lee. He apprenticed at their company previously and she said he was a wonderful craftsman.
I’m searching for more up and coming as well as established Asian or Asian American furniture designers (or architects that also design furniture). I’d love your suggestions! Thank you!
BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.