Masanori Umeda


Masanori Umeda graduated from the Kuwasawa Design School in Tokyo in 1962. In 1967 he moved to Milan and worked in the studio of Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni. From 1970 to 1979 he was a consultant to the Olivetti design and furnishing systems studio where he met Ettore Sottsass.

In 1981 Umeda designed his most famous Memphis piece: the Tawaraya boxing ring, in which the founding members of the group were photographed by Studio Azzurro in a shot that has become one of the most iconic images of Memphis. A synthesis of East and West, Tawaraya combines, as a metaphor for conversation, a boxing ring with the tatami mats of traditional Japanese interiors. The collaboration with Memphis continued for the next two years during which Umeda created the Ginza mobile robot and two ceramic objects, the Orinoco vase and the Parana bowl. Umeda returned to Japan in 1986 and opened his own U-MetaDesign studio in Tokyo, which in 2001 took the name of Umeda Design Studio Inc.

In the following years he continued to design many postmodern, poetic and ironic pieces of furniture. Masanori Umeda has participated in several international exhibitions and has been awarded various prizes, including the Braun Prize in 1968, the Grand Prix of Japan Display Design Award in 1981, the Japan Commercial Space Design Award in 1984, the Grand Prix of Good Design Award, Japan in 1990 and the 2001 Grand Prix of Urbanistic Projects Award in Gifu City, Japan. His projects are present in many international museums such as MoMa in New York, the National Museum of Modern Art in Kyoto and the Musée des Artes Décoratifs de Montréal.

In 2015, more than 180 of Umeda's works were acquired by the M+ Museum, West Kowloon Cultural District, Hong Kong.

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