Art Deco 1925-1940


art deco posterArt deco began in the 1920’s Paris, where some of the most luxurious, and over the top furniture and décor was ever produced!!

Describing the hallmarks of art deco included; clean lines, geometric shapes, colours including dove gray, flat silver, brilliant red, soft lilac and emerald green—this was the basic palette— set against exotic woods such as Makassar ebony, zebra wood, and the refined metals of bronze, brushed steel and nickel. Art Deco period was described as very ‘glamourous’ in fact the more lavish the better!!!!!

art deco office

The styles prominent lines geometric shapes and bold colours carried through the Great Depression and into the 1930’s. But even after its prime popularity, Art Deco remained on the scene with refreshing, modern designs despite the fact this style was set to decline.

Later in the 1930’s more modernism influences were at work, and art deco interior design became more widely available with the advent of cheaper materials and mass production. Some of the modernist designs such as the tubular chairs have become design classics and have been reproduced to this day.

Influences and Background

There’s a lot of interesting history behind the Art Deco movement! When researching Art Deco the following phrases were highlighted and best described as a style that was considered a “supremely theatrical and ornate; yet it is also classical and symmetrical” The movement drew its inspiration from art genres including Cubism, Futurism, Neoclassicism, Modernism, Futurism and the Bauhaus era. Art Deco’s true heyday was from 1925 to 1937, though things started up as early as 1920.

Think of the Roaring Twenties—the Great Gatsby, with flappers kicking their sequenced heels up, lavish parties. It was a glamorous time, but it was also an era that embraced technology. This is a key distinguishing factor between Art Deco and the Art Nouveau period, with its organic motifs.


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Historical Furniture – Italian Renaissance

The Italians are known world over for their high-quality furniture mostly leather based with refined wood finishing.

Italy, in particular Florence and Tuscany, was the founding nation of the Renaissance artistic, cultural and social movement which swept across Europe and revolutionized Europe.

The first innovation in Italian Renaissance furniture was the ‘Cassone’, a chest with intricate and elaborately carved surface with gilded decorations or painted finishing. It is believed that the design was inspired by the Roman sarcophagi (an ancient stone or marble coffin, often decorated with sculpture and inscription) and the chest designs were based on conventional models.

Large cassoni, or marriage chests, were the most desired and common features of homes, and even though they were expensive, they were bought by nearly all the social classes. Made with gesso and wood, these chests were often dark and elaborate, and their grandness depended on people’s different classes (wealthier people had more sumptuous ones, whilst poorer classes’ cassoni were often far simpler). The best decorators and sculptors in Italy often produced grand and beautiful cassoni for some of the most important noble families of the time. Even though these chests were used to put objects inside of them, many were used simply for decoration.

Furniture, and decorative work

Furniture was mainly made out of wood, often walnut or willow and was usually rich in style, with many inlays of ivory, gold, stone, marble or other precious elements, and often were decorated with marquetry.  Much furniture was also relatively grotesque.   Caryatids (Caryatid is the name given to an architectural column which takes the form of a standing female figure) became popular at the time, and were often made out of marble (the rich people used them as legs to their dining tables). Chairs at the time were considered symbols of wealth, and the wealthiest families had them made very sumptuous and grand. Poorer people’s chairs often had x-shaped backs, and some could only afford plain three-legged stools.

The Italian renaissance furniture featured great imaginative carvings and the use of variety of forms with diverse application of ornaments to achieve greater and more beautiful furniture than their predecessors. The use of walnut (1500s) in place of oak which had been in use over the centuries was an improvement in the furniture industry. More sophisticated and portable folding chairs were revived, with seats of tapestry or leather. As the years rolled by, Italians began to develop the leather industry greatly, primarily to provide more quality leather for the manufacture of exquisite furniture. New solid-backed side chairs were developed that had carved backs and, instead of legs, solid carved panels as supports.

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Historical Furniture / Costume Styles

Historical Furniture

Furniture design has been a part of the human experience since the beginning of history. Evidence of furniture survives from as far back as the Neolithic Period in the form of paintings, wall Murals discovered at Pompeii, in sculpture and examples have also been excavated in Egyptian Pyramids and found in tombs in Ghiordes (modern day Turkey). These notes will track the main advancements, developments, styles and materials in furniture design highlighting the identifying features of each period, the materials used and show images of some of the most significant pieces of furniture ever designed. The furniture design timeline below outlines just some of the different periods of furniture design and gives you a basic overview of the timeline of furniture design history. Choose from the menu below to look at one furniture design period in more depth.

furniture design timeline

This post discusses the following historical periods of furniture design…

  • Neolithic
  • Ancient Egyptian
  • Ancient Greek
  • Medieval
  • Renaissance
  • Jacobean
  • Colonial
  • Rococo
  • Revival
  • Art Nouveau
  • Bauhaus
  • Art Deco
  • Modern

English Period Furniture

Throughout the history of furniture, the changing styles have arrived by the conditions ruling at any one time. These conditions may have been the result of:

  • The Limits of Knowledge, wood expansion and contraction
  • The limits of equipment, only tools and saws
  • The Availability of Timber, Local supply, only solid timber
  • Economic Conditions, wealthy or not, changes
  • Peace or War, determine furniture, immobile, security
  • Overseas Influences, trade agreements, incentives
  • Reigning Monarch
  • A Movement
  • A Generic influence
  • A Religious Group

Britain had Oak and Beech as it’s native timber for furniture production, but with the discovery of new land and the establishment of overseas trade, other timber species suddenly became available:

  • Oak 1500-1600
  • Walnut 1660-1723
  • Mahogany 1715
  • Satinwood 1765

Prior to 1500, the Gothic Period, teaching and learning of craftsmanship was mostly overseen by the church. Therefore, most ornamentation on Gothic furniture follows the lines of ornamental stonework from the Gothic Churches and buildings.

The carpenter, blacksmith and the turner made the furniture. It consisted of tables, forms, stools and chests. The chest was the principal piece as it served not only as storage, but also a seat or table. Tables generally were loose boards on top of trestles.

Henry VII, came to the throne following the war of the roses in 1485, and was the first Tudor monarch. During this time Britain had found peace and order not previously known.

Henry VIII succeeded his father in 1509, and inherited his accumulated treasures. He continued to change the Gothic style by keeping up his father’s interest in foreign artists and craftsmen. More economical printing materials were available which allowed for pattern books from the continent.

The wealth of the country increased under the stable Tudor government and a new middle class was formed creating a demand for a new form of furniture.

Therefore the 16th Century can be divided into two halves. The first part, furniture consisted of carving on gothic framework, stools and forms were the only form of seating available. English Period Furniture


  • Tudor Gothic C16th
  • Elizabethan 1558- 1603
  • Jacobean 1603-1660
  • Commonwealth 1649-1660
  • Restoration 1660- 1688
  • William & Mary 1689-1702
  • Queen Anne 1702-1714
  • Georgian 1714- 1806
  • Chippendale
  • Regency 1774- 1793
  • Hepplewhite
  • Adam
  • Sheraton
  • Victorian 1830-1901


  • 1643-1715 Louis 14th  
  • 1715- 1774 Louis 15th

From the start…

Neolithic Period Furniture:


Neolithic Period Furniture
Neolithic Period Furniture
A excavated site dating from 3100-2500 BC in Skara Brae, Orkney uncovered a range of stone furniture. Due to a shortage of wood in Orkney, the people of Skara Brae were forced to build with stone, a readily available material that could be turned into items for use within the household. Each house was equipped with an extensive assortment of stone furniture, ranging from cupboards, dressers and beds to shelves and stone seats. The stone dresser was regarded as the most important as it symbolically faced the entrance in each house and is therefore the first item that was seen when entering a house.

Ancient Egyptian Furniture:


Ancient Egyptian Furniture
Ancient Egyptian Furniture
The hyperarid climatic conditions of Egypt since the third millennium BC are perfect for the preservation of organic material. Thanks to these conditions Ancient Egyptian furniture has been excavated and various sites and includes 3rd millennium BC beds, discovered at Tarkhan, a 2550 BC gilded bed and chairs from the tomb of Queen Hetepheres, and boxes, beds and chairs from Thebes. There were two severe sides to the furniture excavated, the intricate gold gilded ornate furniture found in the tombs of the Pharaohs and the simple chairs, tables and baskets of the ordinary Egyptians.


Ancient Greek Furniture:


Ancient Greek Furniture
Ancient Greek Furniture
Ancient Greek furniture design can be dated back to the 2nd millennium BC, including the famous klismos chair. The furniture designs are preserved not only by the examples still in existance, but by images of them depicted in Greek vases. In 1738 and 1748 excavations of Herculaneum and Pompeii revealed perfectly preserved Roman furniture. The ashes from the eruption at Mount Vesuvius preserved the furniture from 79 A.D. right up its excavation in the eighteenth century. Characteristic of this early furniture were highly influenced by the furniture of the ancient Egyptians with a stiff, rectangular, and unflattering shape. In the 4th and 5th centuries, once the Greeks developed their own style, furniture became less square and rigid and more curved and flowing.
Medieval Furniture:


Medieval Furniture
Medieval Furniture
The medieval period was a stark and somewhat crude time, and that is reflected in the furniture styles of the era. The furniture of the medieval period is very distinctive in style. Its most notable characteristics are ornate wood carvings on the border of chairs and canopy beds, garish structural layouts and colours that are basically grey, beige or black. Forms were mainly square or rectangular with very little in the way of curved lines or circular forms.


Renaissance Furniture:


Renaissance Furniture
Renaissance Furniture
Along with the other arts, the Italian Renaissance of the fourteenth and fifteenth century marked a rebirth in furniture design, often inspired by the Greco-Roman tradition. Starting in the fifteenth century, a similar renaissance of culture, occurred in Northern Europe, particularly in the Netherlands, Belgium and Northern France. These designs were distinctly different from that of Medieval times and were characterized by opulent, often gilded designs that frequently incorporated a profusion of floral, vegetal and scrolling ornamentation. The aim of these pieces were often to showcase the skills of the craftsmen who made them.


Jacobean Furniture:


Jacobean Furniture
Jacobean Furniture
After the Renaissance there was a gradual change to a less ornamented, quieter style of furniture. In Britain table legs, for example became straighter and narrower than were typical of earlier pieces and instead spiral turned legs became typical of this period. In general furniture profiles became lower and more rectangular. Later Jacobean furniture, during the era of Oliver Cromwell the Protector, was very stern, square, and frugal, a suitable style for a time of relative poverty. But with the return of the monarchy under Charles II, Carolean furniture once again became more ornate, characterized by intricate carved stretchers and colourful upholstery with tasselled trim.
By the end of the period, the influence of the British William and Mary style was beginning to show. Compared to the Jacobean and Carolean pieces this style of furniture was lighter and more elegant. Inverted, cup-turned legs, bun feet, and serpentine stretchers made this a very identifiable style.

Colonial furniture:


Colonial Furniture
Colonial Furniture
Across the water in the United States, during the early Colonial period, most furniture arrived along with the first immigrants. They brought furniture pieces typical of the Jacobean and Carolean periods in Britain with them, and then later made their own furniture in a similar style. These pieces were generally sturdy and heavily carved, many with turned legs and bun feet. In the harsher environment of some of the Colonies these pieces were simpler representatives of their parent styles, befitting the more straightforward and utilitarian life of the settlers.
Other settlers also brought their influences with them to the colonies, most notably the Dutch and French in the North east, and the Spanish in the South west. Although recognisably different from the British inspired designs, the Dutch pieces are essentially in the same tradition. However the different climate and different wood available to Spanish colonists led to a distinctly different style known as Mission or South western.
The earliest American-made piece of furniture is a chest made by Nicholas Disbrowe around 1660. Uncompromisingly rectangular, its distinctively carved frame-and-panel construction, although very reminiscent of earlier British Age of Oak pieces, is already recognizable as a distinct American style. Many other early Colonial era pieces, such as wainscot chairs and heavy joint-tables, are similarly in the Age of Oak tradition.

Rococo Furniture:


Rococo Furniture
Rococo Furniture
In the eighteenth century, furniture design began to develop rapidly, although there were some styles that belonged primarily to one nation, such as Palladianism in Great Britain or Louis Quinze in French furniture, others, such as the Rococo and Neoclassicism were commonplace throughout Western Europe. In reality the term ’18th-century furniture’ therefore refers to a wide variety of styles including William and Mary, Queen Anne, Georgian, Chippendale, Hepplewhite, Sheraton, Adam, Regency, Federal, and the French periods of the several Louis, Directoire, and Empire.
While seperate, all 18th-century furniture, whether American, British, or French shared a similar style of construction that is distinct from the subsequent mass-produced furniture of the 19th century. Eighteenth-century furniture is commonly thought of as representing the golden age of the highly trained master cabinetmaker, trained in the craft of furniture design which manifests in highly finished, sophisticated designs.

Revival Furniture:

Revival Furniture
Revival Furniture
The 19th century was marked by the Industrial Revolution, which caused profound changes in society. With increasing working populations in cities, the rise of a new class of wealthy of furniture buyers, together with the arrival of mass-production and the demise of the individual craftsman-designer, the gradual progression of furniture styles that had developed through the previous centuries was replaced by a raft of imitation or revival styles. These concurrent revival styles, including Gothic revival, Neoclassicism and Rococo revival became easy and inexpensive to manufacture as technology developed during the industrial revolution.
With mass-production technology in place it was a simple matter to graft historically correct ornaments onto all sorts of furniture, thereby making possible for the creation of a continual stream of revival styles to meet the demands of the public. The result was a century of furniture whose common denominator was excessive ornamentation in the form of applied metal or wood carvings, inlays or stencils.

Art Nouveau Furniture:


Art Noveau Furniture
Art Noveau Furniture
The name “Art Nouveau” is French for ‘new art’, and it emerged in the late 19th century in Paris. The style was said to be influenced strongly by the lithographs of Czech artist Alphonse Mucha, whose flat imagery with strong curved lines was seen as a move away from the academic art of the time. Art Nouveau furniture used lines and curves as graphical ornamentation and hard woods and iron were commonly used to provide strong yet slim supporting structures to a furniture pieces.

Bauhaus Furniture:


Bauhaus Furniture
Bauhaus Furniture
Because of the greater availability of a wider array of materials than ever before, and because of an ever-expanding awareness of historical and cross-cultural aesthetics, 20th-century furniture is perhaps more diverse, in terms of style, than all the centuries that preceded it. The first three-quarters of the twentieth century saw styles such as Art Deco, De Stijl, Bauhaus, Wiener Werkstatte, and Vienna all work to some degree within the Modernist idiom. The Bauhaus school was founded by Walter Gropius in Weimar in 1919. In spite of its name, and the fact that its founder was an architect, the Bauhaus was founded with the idea of creating a ‘total’ work of art in which all arts, including furniture would eventually be brought together. The furniture designs that emerged from the Bauhaus became some of the most influential designs in modern design.

Art Deco Furniture:


Art Deco Furniture
Art Deco Furniture
The Art Deco movement began in Paris in the 1920s and it represented elegance, glamour, functionality and modernity. Art deco’s linear symmetry was a distinct departure from the flowing asymmetrical organic curves of its predecessor style art nouveau. Art deco experienced a decline in popularity during the late 1930s and early 1940s when it began to be derided as presenting a false image of luxury, eventually the style was ended by the austerities of World War II.


20th century Fashion History Timeline

  • 1890’s • Age of Optimism • Ragtime • Men’s Fashions – Winged shirt collars – Sack Coat – Waistcoat (Vest) – Ascot Tie
  • 1890-1900 What influenced Fashion? • Victorian Era  Fashion Trends • Corset • Bustle • Gibson Girl – From mid 1890’s to the early 1920’s symbolized the Ideal American Woman Silhouette Exaggerated Hourglass Silhouette
  • 1900’s • Edwardian Era • Automobile • Electricity • Men’s Fashions – 1st 3 Piece Suit – Creased and cuffed trousers
  • 1900-1910 What Influenced Fashion? • Industrial Revolution Era Fashion Trends • Shirtwaist • Leg O’Mutton Sleeves • Dustcoast – Protect clothing while riding in the automobile Silhouette • S Curve Silhouette
  • 1904 – 1910’s • Women’s Movement • Men’s Fashions – Military Influence – Trench Coat What Influenced Fashion? • World War I 1910’s Fashion Trends • Hobble skirts • Bathing Suit • Bloomers 1910’s Silhouette • Elongated Inverted Triangle
  • 1920’s • Prohibition • Age of Jazz • Men’s Fashions – Pin Stripe Suits – Fedoras – Sweaters – Knickers – Raccoon Coat • Roaring 20’s Fashion Trends • Flapper – Long beads, loose fitting dresses with shorter hemlines • Costume Jewelry • Cloche’ Hat Silhouette • Tubular
  • 1930’s • Movie Star Influence • Men’s Fashions – Straight wide leg trousers – Sweater Vests • Depression Era Fashion Trends • Hand-me Downs • Flour Sack Clothing – Children wore clothing made from flour and sugar sacks • Bias cut Dresses • Waistline Restored • Hemlines Dropped Silhouette • Elongated Hourglass
  • 1930’s – 1940’s • Rationing • Couture leaves Paris • New York Gains importance • Men’s Fashion’s – Military Influence – Bomber Jacket • World War II • Military Influence Fashion Trends • Convertible Suit • Slacks • Eisenhower Jacket • Padded shoulders Silhouette • Inverted Triangle Silhouette
  • 1950’s • Baby Boom • Cold War • Teenager Emerges • Men’s Fashions – Flannel suit in charcoal gray, navy , or brown – Cardigan sweaters – Hats • Teenage Boy – Chinos, button down shirts, & loafers OR – Tight Jeans, t- shirts, leather jackets, Converse • Rock and Roll Fashion Trends • Teenage Girls – Poodle Skirts – Saddle Shoes – Capri Pants • Women – The New Look (Christian Dior) Silhouette • Hourglass Silhouette with accented lower half
  • 1960’s • Vietnam Conflict • ‘British Invasion’ • Men’s Fashions – Bright Colors – Nehru Jackets – Turtlenecks What influenced Fashion? • Civil Rights Fashion Trends • Mini Skirts • Pantsuits for Women • Pillbox hat Silhouette • Tubular Silhouette
  • 1970’s • Energy Crisis • Watergate • Women’s – African culture influence – Hemlines drop – Punk emerges – Elegance contrast/ Laura Ashley • Men’s Fashions – Leisure Suits – Bold Neckties – Flared Pants What Influenced Fashion? • Hippy to Disco Era Fashion Trends • Unisex • Bold Flower Prints • Platform Shoes • Flared Pants Silhouette • A-Line Silhouette
  • 1980’s • Men’s Fashions – Return to the Pinstripe – Narrow Lapels – Skinny Ties • Me Generation • Conservatism • Conspicuous consumption What influenced Fashion? • Yuppie Movement – Young Urban Professional – Young upwardly- mobile Professional Fashion Trends • Exercise Wear • Logo wear • Designer Jeans • Power Dressing • Preppie • Business Suits • Shoulder Pads • Khaki • Sweaters • Logo Wear • Designer Jeans • Material Girl/Valley Girl • Flounced Skirts • Polka dotted crinolines • Exercise Wear Silhouette • European “V” Inverted Triangle Silhouette
  • 1990’s • Age of Electronics • Technology • Internet • Women – Minimalism – Retro 60-70’s – Street Fashion • Men’s Fashions – Hip Hop Influence – Grunge/ Oversize fit What influenced Fashion? • Technology Era Fashion Trends • Bare Midriff • Two Piece Formal • Grunge Silhouette • A-line Silhouette
  • Fashion trends repeat every 20- 30 years
  • Coco Chanel Christian Dior • 2 Designers credited with Major Fashion Looks in the 20th Century • Fashion Influence from 1920’s until World War II • Resurfaces in 1954 • Little black dress • Costume Jewelry • Revolution in Women’s Clothing
  • Christian Dior • New Look • Full bust lines • Tiny waists • Full skirts


What you need to do:

  1. Select one of the historical periods/fashion decades listed in the post 
  2. Write about the key points about it (300+ words)
  3. Source min 6 images related to the post
  4. Acknowledge the sources of info at the end of the post
  5. Tick the Categories&Tags Category “Historical Furniture / Costume Styles” before publishing
  6. Prepare a short (2-3 min) presentation about your post
  7. Note the post is due on the 30th of March 2017, presentation is due next session
  8. Post min two comments (100+ words) on this posts from min two students from your group

Serizawa Keisuke

Post~war   Japanesese…/keisuke-serizawa/various-prints-set-of-100-DXc2J6xNzWxPA83r

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Paper Making

Keisuke Serizawa’s “Paper Making” is a fine example of his ‘Mingei’. This original hand-stenciled dye print is printed upon Japanese hand-made mulberry (rice) paper and with full margins as published by the Keisuke Serizawa workshop around 1970.


(Printmaker; Japanese; 1895 – 1984)

Serizawa Keisuke

Print artist. Serizawa was not strictly a printmaker, except in the form of illustrated books, but through those publications in folk styles he had considerable influence on graphic art, especially on Munakata, Watanabe Sadao and Mori Yoshitoshi. He was born in Shizuoka and graduated in 1917 from the Tokyo Koto Kogyo Gakko (Design Section at the Tokyo High School of Industry). While working as a designer, he studied the techniques of dyeing. He was an early adherent of Yanagi Soetsu and the Folk Art Movement. He made a special study of the Okinawan stencil-dyeing method called ‘bingata’ and the Edo-period stencil technique of ‘komon’ (small patterns). From these he developed his own more self-conscious style. 

Serizawas  main field became stencil-dyed books of which the grandest was ‘Honen Shonin eden’ , and in the following year he was introduced to the group of young dyeing craftsmen called Moegi-kai, which included Watanabe Sadao. After the Pacific War recognition of his skills developed quickly, and in 1957 they were recognised by the Japanese Government as ‘Intangible Cultural Assets’. In 1962 he had a celebrated dispute with Mori Yoshitoshi about whether craft and art are the same. In 1962 he was asked to design two panels for the rebuilding of the Imperial Palace. In 1977 he received the Award of Cultural Merit and in the same year had a major exhibition in Paris. In 1981 the Serizawa Keisuke Art Museum was opened in his native Shizuoka, which includes not only his books but many textile designs and his collection of folk art. Later in his career he taught at Tama University and the Women’s Art University. His work can still be bought today and was very popular during the war.









Hanae Mori – Post War Japanese

Related image

A very well-known Japanese fashion designer, Hanae Mori, was born in 1926. She is the only Japanese woman to have presented her collections on runways of Paris and New York and the first Asian woman to be admitted as official haute couture design house in France.

Hanae Mori graduated from Tokyo Women’s Christian University where she studied literature. She married after and attended dress-making school where she discovered her love for fashion. She began in the 1950s, making clothes for Japanese films. Since then she has branched out to design for the opera and ballet. Her first atelier was opened in 1951. She met Coco Chanel in 1961, and influenced her to pursue haute couture.

She is notable for her hand-beaded evening dresses, covered with glittering butterflies. She chose the butterfly image, she said, because her life was transformed too, from traditional Japanese woman to international business mogul. She has created many designs that include shoes, stockings, gloves, ties, belts, handbags, umbrellas, sunglasses, aprons, carpets and laquerware. She also has a range of fragrances, including Hanae Mori Butterfly. Her influences were butterflies, the connection between Western and Oriental culture, and Coco Chanel. Her style has a sense of feminine beauty and uses an artistic use of colour and fabric in her designs.

By stepping outside current trends and concentrating on conservative but always feminine daywear, Mori has established a niche for herself in the Parisian fashion arena. Integral to this is the sense of the longevity of her easy-to-wear separates, which even in the ready-to-wear line retain a delicacy of touch through the textiles used. Mori elaborates on the basic tenets of combining fine fabrics and flattering cut, adding her own feel for the dramatic to her eye-catching eveningwear. Some evening wear is hand painted to resemble Japanese screens.

She has 60 boutiques as well as a shopping-and-dining complex – the Hanae Mori Building in Japan. In Paris, she has two ready-to-wear boutiques along with her couture salon. And in the United States, major specialty stores carry her label, including I. Magnin and NeimanMarcus in Beverly Hills.

Mori has retired from the runway but still has a few boutiques. Her fragrance division, Hanae Mori Parfums, is still active and produces a series of acclaimed fragrances including Hanae Mori Butterfly for women, HM for Men and Hanae Mori Magical Moon for women. Hanae Mori Parfums are made in France and distributed worldwide. It can be purchased throughout the United States at stores such as Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s and Sephora.


Masanori Umeda Japanese Designer

Japanese designer masanori umeda is known for his poetic playful furniture pieces, many of which draw on nature,in particular the shape of blossoming flowers such as his ‘getsuen’ and ‘rose’ armchairs anenome01

Masanori Umeda (1941, Kanagawa, Japan) has become renowned for his floral chairs. Physicalizing orchids, roses, and anthuriums into playfully functional furniture, Umeda has invented a vert distinct style. His latest design featured above is a stool that fashioned ‘anemone’ is the motif of an anemone flower.

Although he trained in Japan, graduating from the Kuwasama Design School in Tokyo in 1962, Umeda established a reputation in the West, particularly through his contributions to the Milan‐based avant‐garde design group Memphis in the 1980s. He had begun his career in Italy in 1967 when he worked in Achille Castiglione’s architecture and design studio for two years. In 1970 he became a consultant designer for the Italian office equipment manufacturer Olivetti, working on products, furniture, and interiors which was a huge turning point in his career. In 1980 he opened his own studio- U Metadesign Inc. His designs including the Ginza Robot cabinet (1982) featured below is a stand out, combining references to the fashionable shopping district in central Tokyo with a widely recognisable feature of Japanese popular culture. He also designed for the imaginative Italian furniture manufacturer Edra Mazzei (established 1987), including the Rose (1990) and Getsuen (1990) chairs which have been also featured as images. Umeda still  contributes to his U-Meta design firm in Tokyo, where he can  continue to produce poetic and postmodern furniture.

Umeda’s designs very much push the boundaries of modern furniture design- visually understated but creatively complex.  An example of exactly this; includes his signature furniture piece featured above- the boxing ring. Umeda’s designs very much have helped shape contemporary furniture design throughout the 20th century. In actual fact, Umeda can hardly go unnoticed!!! He has participated in several international exhibitions winning several awards for his designs which still gain recognition today.

Links include;

Masanori Umeda

Junya Watanabe



Junya Watanabe is a Japanese fashion designer who originally studied under Comme des Garcons designer, Rei Kawakubo. A graduate of Bunka Fashion College in Tokyo in 1984, he began his career as a patternmaker at CDG and was soon promoted to chief designer of the Tricot line, followed by CDG Homme. He started his own line under the label, called Junya Watanabe Comme des Garcons, in 1993 and began showing in Paris. As is his mentor, Watanabe is renowned for his innovative and distinctly avant-garde, technically brilliant style in his experiments with cutting-edge fabrics, original tailoring and complex draping.

He doesn’t appear for the customary bow at the end of his runway shows, presented four times a year in Paris. He rarely grants interviews, refuses to discuss his personal life and is reticent even to talk about his work. Many of his own employees have never been to his studio. “He doesn’t have a problem with talking about his clothes and creation but he’s a little hesitant about talking about personal interests .

Junya Watanabe has always been fluent in the language of street style: His consistently brilliant chopped-up and redone jeans, motorcycle jackets, and army surplus are avidly-amassed wardrobe trophies for his followers. Strangely, though, so little is known about this very private Japanese designer that it’s easy to project onto him the persona of a recluse who works in isolation in Tokyo, while perhaps enjoying solving geometry equations on the side. With his spring collection, it became apparent that the hermit-like suppositions might not be true—because Watanabe hung out in Berlin before coming up with the powerful meld of street-tribe clothes and spiky 3D geometry he put out today.

Junya Watanabe is to Japanese design what Hedi Slimane was at Saint Laurent—though, of course, much more discreet.

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Ikko Tanaka

Ikko Tanaka

Born in Nara, Japan in 1930, Ikko Tanaka created a style of graphic design that fused modernism principles and aesthetics with the Japanese tradition. As a child he studied art and as a young adult he was involved in modern drama and theatrical study groups. In 1963 he formed Tanaka Design Studio where he worked for corporations such as Mazda, Hanae Mori, Issey Miyake and the International Garden and Greenery Exhibition.

When Mr. Tanaka began working in the late 1950’s, contemporary Japanese designers were trying to balance respect for the past with the imperatives of a commercially driven industrial society. Mr. Tanaka succeeded in marrying past and present in graphic compositions that were strong and clean, colorful and playful and unerringly precise. He borrowed the simple shapes and patterns of ancient arts and incorporated them into designs that were definitely of his time and place.

He is most well-known for his poster design for the Nihon Buyo performance by the Asian Performing Arts Institute. The poster shows his fusion of modernist sensibilities and traditional Japanese culture through the simplified illustration of a geisha. He designed, among other things, posters, logos, packaging and annual reports. Among his wide ranging work, his designs for the symbols for the Expo ’85 in Tsukuba and the World City Expo Tokyo ’96 garnered much attention. He died in 2002 of a heart attack at the age of 71.


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Sori Yanagi Aka

Sori Yanagi Aka

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Sori Yanagi aka Munemichi Yanagi (1915 – 2011)
After winning both 1st and 2nd place in the first Japan Industrial Design Contest in 1952 Sori Yanagi established his own design studio. In 1957 he was invited to participate in the 11th Milan Triennial where his “Butterfly Stool” won the golden prize. In 1980 he became the first designer to hold an exhibition at the prestigious Galleria d’Arte Moderna in Milan, Italy.

Yanagi was known for his unique forms, which brought simplicity and unexpected practicality into everyday homes through his industrial designs in everything from kitchenware and furniture to toys and even bridges. Yanagi never lost sight of aesthetic and artistic ideals. Yet his work was functional and practical, demonstrated by usage in the the everyday household day-in and day-out.Yanagi helped open doors as an international artist and paved the way for future designers to display their work abroad. He passed away on Christmas day, 2011



Design Sori Yanagi, 1954
Lacquered bent plywood, brass fittings
Made in Switzerland by Vitra

“true beauty is not made; it is born naturally”, Sori Yanagi.
Long admired for it’s sculptural silhouette, Sori Yanagi’s 1954 Butterfly Stool has been an elusive beauty to net. Vintage examples often command upwards of a few thousand dollars at auction. Originally produced and distributed only in Japan, Vitra has secured the authorization and license to produce and distribute this classic.

Designed by Sori Yanagi between 1997 and 2000, the keywords for their design are simplicity and functionality. In 1998, the series won the prestigious Good Design Award in Japan. These tools are produced in Niigata where is long famous for the quality of its stainless steel and its metal working skills. Sori Yanagi’s kitchen tools embody his values of simplicity and practicality. Influenced by the Japanese folk art movement and modernist ideals, Yanagi’s designs celebrate organic form, beauty and efficiency.

This stainless steel kettle, designed by legendary designer Sori Yanagi in Japan, functions both as the perfect cupping kettle and the everyday essential kettle for home. Easy to hold, and easy to pour, the manufacture of this beautiful kettle involves an elaborate process, and is Yanagi’s highest selling product since it was introduced in 1994. Winning the Japanese Good Design Award in 1998, this beautifully functional kettle is the perfect multi-purpose kettle.


Sori Yanagi Aka Information 

Sori Yanagi Aka Butterfly StoolSori Yanagi Aka Butterfly Stool

Sori Yanagi Aka Steel Mixing Bowl

Sori Yanagi Aka Stainless Steel Kettle

Shigeo Fukuda

He is the Poster man in Japan..  As I have travelled extensively in Japan I see his influence everywhere.

Born in Tokyo February 4, 1932, to a family that was involved in the design and manufacturing of toys. Growing up in this setting it was only inevitable that Fukuda would be involved in some form of design. At the end of WWII Fukuda became
interested in the minimalist ‘Swiss Style’ of graphic design, and also
graduated from Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music.

Following in the tradition of Japanese illustration Fukuda’s style of Graphic design is very simplistic, which is what he became know for, his posters “distilled complex concepts into compelling images of logo simplicity” (The New York Times).

Working also in the area of illusion ism, he says, “I believe that in design, 30% dignity, 20% beauty, 50% absurdity are necessary. Rather than catering to the design sensitivity of the general public, there is advancement in design if people are left to feel satisfied with their own

superiority, by entrapping them with visual illusion.”

As a designer, Fukuda feels a great sense of moral responsibility, and because
of this some of his design works reveal his convictions. Fukuda’s most famous
poster, ‘Victory 1945’ is a statement on the senselessness of war. At the time
war was a big business, and the simplicity of the poster and his simplistic idea of peace is what won him the grand prize at the 1975 Warsaw poster contest.

The natural trend for designers of Asia is to look towards western trends and ideas, something that Fukuda did not do, possibly shifting the trends, making him an influential designer for the East.

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