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Sori Yanagi

(b. 1915)

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Although he had previously trained as a fine artist and worked in an architectural studio, Yanagi went on to study industrial design in 1947. In 1952 he opened his own design studio in Tokyo, the Yanagi Design Institute, and attracted attention with his award‐winning record player radio design for Nihon‐Columbia. This was a prizewinner at the first Mainichi Industrial Design Competition of 1952. As one of the first generation of Japanese industrial designers he continued to attract attention for designs in a wide range of media, from furniture to domestic products. He explored the combination of Japanese and Western traditions in his elegant plywood and metal butterfly stool (1956) and the possibilities of modern materials blended with elegant forms as in his stainless steel and Bakelite water jug for the Uehan Shoji Company (1958). His reputation was further underlined with the award of a Gold Medal at the Milan Triennale of 1957 and a prestigious G‐Mark Prize in 1958 for his aluminium Speed kettle for Nikkei. He played an important role in the consolidation of the emerging design profession as a founder member of Japan Industrial Designers Association in 1952, also writing widely on design including his book Sori Yanagi's Works and Philosophy (1983). In addition he played a role in Japanese design education, teaching at the Women's Art College, Tokyo (1953–4), and the Kanazawa University of Arts and Crafts. Later in life, in 1977, he became director of the Japan Folk Crafts Museum in Tokyo.

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