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Sinya Okayama

Japanese, born 1941

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Sinya Okayama introduced an advanced postmodern idiom to Japanese design in the 1980s, creating furniture, lighting, and objects that were intended to communicate--sometimes literally--with the consumer. He became known internationally through his participation in the "Phoenix" exhibition at the Queen's Quay Terminal, Toronto, in 1984, and afterward collaborated with Alessandro Mendini, a founder of Italian postmodern design, on two projects, "Sei Mobiletti" (1986) and "7 + 7 Gioielli" (1987). Following an unusual process of design, each remained in his own country, and communicating only by letter, one designed and drew a part of an object and the other completed the design without their meeting to discuss the work. To some extent Okayama's objects all suggest the real object or object type for which they are named, such as his Top of the World shelves (1984), which resemble a snow-covered mountain with its peak in the clouds, and his Condor cupboard (1989), which extends horizontally like the wings of a bird. Certain objects relate directly to their names, such as the shelves and stools he designed in the shape of the Japanese ideograms for the words "celebration" and "wind". From 1961 to 1966 Okayama worked in the design department of the Mitsukoshi department store corporation, but since 1967 he has been a free-lance interior and product designer. Okayama opened his design office in Osaka in 1970, producing his first furniture and lighting fixtures under his own name in 1981.

Kathyrn B. Hiesinger and Felice Fischer, Japanese Design: A Survey Since 1950. Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1994, p. 221.

References: New York, Gallery 91, Interior Objects and Art Furniture by Sinya Okayama (June 9 - July 14, 1984); Tokyo, Yurakucho Asahi Gallery, Interior Objects by Sinya Okayama (Apr. 28 - May 17, 1989).

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