"How High the Moon" Armchair

Shiro Kuramata (Japanese, 1934–1991)
Nickel-plated steel mesh
H.28-1/4, W.37-3/8, D.32 in. (71.8 x 94.9 x 81.3 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Vitra Inc., Basel, Switzerland, 1988
Accession Number:
Not on view
"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.
the manufacturer, Vitra Inc., Basel (1988; their gift to MMA)

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "A Century of Design, Part IV: 1975-2000," June 25, 2001–January 6, 2002, no catalogue.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Highlights from the Modern Design Collection: 1900–Present, Part II," May 23, 2011–July 1, 2012, no catalogue.

R. Craig Miller in "Twentieth Century Art." Recent Acquisitions: A Selection, 1987–1988. New York, 1988, p. 76, ill.

R. Craig Miller. Modern Design in The Metropolitan Museum of Art 1890–1990. New York, 1990, ill. pp. 271–72 (color).

Karrie Jacobs. "The Art of the Design Museum." Metropolis 10 (December 1990), ill. p. 5.

Yasuko Seki. Shiro Kuramata and Ettore Sottass. Exh. cat., Design Sight. Tokyo, 2011, p. 210, no. 15, ill. and ill. pp. 58, 59 (sketch).

Deyan Sudjic. Shiro Kuramata. Vol. 1, Essays & Writings. London, 2013, pp. 103, 138, ill. pp. 102 (sketches), 114, 139.

Deyan Sudjic. Shiro Kuramata. Vol. 2, Catalogue of Works. London, 2013, pp. 340, 343, 346, 352, no. 445, ill. (color).