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Iconic Industrial Designer Sori Yanagi dies at age 96


Yanagi Sori | 1915 – 2011

Iconic Japanese industrial designer Sori Yanagi (柳宗理) passed away on December 25, 2011 at a hospital in Tokyo due to pneumonia-related complications. He was 96 years old.


here is a clip from a 2007 retrospective of his work that took place at the the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo. The clip features a large chunk of Yanagi’s work, as well as an appearance from the designer himself, who was 91 at the time. There’s even a cameo by Naoto Fukasawa.

Sori 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.

Butterfly Stool | 1954

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 helped open doors as an international artist and paved the way for future designers to display their work abroad.

Elephant Stool | 1954


Bentwood stacking chairs | 1967


Kopf Can Opener | 1970


Stainless Kettle | 1998

Dining Table and Chairs | 1998


Yanagi Flatware | 2002

Sori Yanagi was included in our 2008 primer on Japanese designers.

Source: @HirokoTabuchi

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