"How High the Moon" Armchair

Designer: Shiro Kuramata (Japanese, 1934–1991)

Manufacturer: Vitra

Date: 1986

Medium: Nickel-plated steel mesh

Dimensions: H.28-1/4, W.37-3/8, D.32 in. (71.8 x 94.9 x 81.3 cm)

Classification: Furniture

Credit Line: Gift of Vitra Inc., Basel, Switzerland, 1988

Accession Number: 1988.186


"How High the Moon" offers a philosophical meditation on the form of the chair. Kuramata cleverly toys with one of the most iconic forms of Western furniture, but one that is almost unknown in traditional Japanese design. The steel mesh, with no interior frame or support, provides the outline of a chair without any of its traditional structure. While its shape is that of a conventional upholstered armchair, its dematerialized, almost transparent appearance suggests a tension between form and 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 functional furniture.