Masanori Umeda (born 1941)
Painted wood, plastic laminate, chromium-plated metal
68⅞ x 59 x 16½ inches
(175 x 150 x 42 cm)
Produced for Memphis, Milan, Italy
Photo courtesy of Dorotheum
Although we often associate Japanese design with minimalist, restrained aesthetics, it can also be playful and decorative. Umeda, a leading figure in Japan in this genre, was one of three Japanese designers invited to join the Milan-based group Memphis. Formed in 1980 by Italian architect Ettore Sottsass, Memphis was a radical design association that rebelled against the functional modernist design that had dominated the twentieth century. Memphis designers shared a belief in celebrating ornament with color, symbolic meaning, and humor. Ginza possesses all of these characteristics and, at its imposing height, captures the imagination of designers and consumers alike. Ginza was named after Tokyo’s upscale shopping district, and it’s form was inspired by toy robots—finally, design would be fun.