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Masanori Umeda

Japanese, born 1941

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One of a number of Japanese designers who studied and practiced in Europe during the 1960s and 1970s, Masanori Umeda spent the first part of his career working in Italy. He graduated from the Kuwasawa Design School in Tokyo in 1962, and in 1967 joined the architecture and design firm of Achille Castiglioni in Milan, where he remained until 1969. Between 1970 and 1979 Umeda was a consultant designer for Olivetti, with responsibility for computer, interior, and furniture design. In 1981 he became one of the first collaborators with Memphis, a radical design group that defied convention by producing furniture and objects that were humorous and referential, brightly colored, patterned, and irregularly shaped. Borrowing motifs from Japanese popular culture, Umeda designed furniture and ceramics for the first three Memphis collections (1981-83). Umeda has continued to work in the postmodern style associated with Memphis, notably in a series of flower-shape chairs for the Italian firm Edra (1988-90). In 1986 he opened his first office in Japan under the name U-Metadesign and broadened his practice to include industrial- and environmental-design projects in a different stylistic language. Among his recent projects are street lighting for Iwakai Electric (1989) and sanitary fittings for Inax (1989).

Kathyrn B. Hiesinger and Felice Fischer, Japanese Design: A Survey Since 1950. Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1994, p. 225.

Reference: Product Design by Masanori Umeda '80-'89 (Tokyo, 1990).

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