Shiro Kuramata (Japanese, 19341991); Manufacturer: Vitra AG, Basel
Nickel–plated steel mesh; 28 1/4 x 37 3/8 x 32 in. (71.8 x 94.9 x 81.3 cm)
Gift of Vitra Inc., Basel, Switzerland, 1988 (1988.186)
Japanese designer Shiro Kuramata's "How High the Moon" offers a philosophical meditation on the form of the chair. Here, Kuramata cleverly toys with one of the most iconic forms of Western furniture, one that is almost unknown in traditional Japanese design. Constructed entirely of steel mesh, with no interior frame or support, the design provides the outline of a chair without any of its traditional structure. While its shape is that of a somewhat conventional upholstered armchair, its dematerialized, almost transparent appearance suggests a tension between the object's form and its function. This effect is intensified by the reflective quality of the steel mesh. "How High the Moon" appears almost fragile, calling into question its ability to support the weight of the human body, and by extension challenging the definition of the chair as a functional furniture form.