Kazuhiro Yamanaka makes an art of the minimal: Paper Torch (2013), for instance, which involves rolling a piece of paper with a tiny concealed LED inside, or the piece of paper clipped with a clothes peg to which
a bare bulb is attached (It’s Only a Paper Moon, 2012).
His earlier Handkerchief Light pendant (1999), whose
square translucent diffuser resembles flowing fabric,
was another lesson in less is more. ‘Designers should
contemplate how to create a maximum impact with
minimum use of material,’ he once said.
While his designs can be disarmingly simple, they
are expressive. He has been described as ‘a man who
constantly challenges the boundaries between product
design, lighting and pure art’.
Yamanaka was born in Tokyo in 1971. He graduated
in interior design from Musashino Art University in
1995 and then gained an MA from the Royal College
of Art in London in 1997. He has pursued a creative
career ranging from furniture design to lighting
design to installations, his clients including Pallucco,
Ligne Roset, Boffi, Ingo Maurer, Saazs and Alessi. He
has won several awards, and his Rainy Day (Here’s
that rainy day) lamp, designed for Pallucco in 2004,
is part of MoMA, New York’s permanent collection.
He has devised a number of installations in museums
worldwide, including for the Victoria and Albert
Museum in London. Since 2014 he has been an associate
professor at Musashino Art University in Tokyo.
One of his most fruitful lighting partnerships has
been with Pallucco, founded in Rome in the 1970s by
architect Paolo Pallucco, and with whom he has been
working since 2004. ‘I was immediately inspired by the
company’s philosophy, which touched me and which I
always try to transfer to my designs,’ he says.
His products are often both pragmatic and playful,
such as Collapsible Moon, which he designed for
Pallucco in 2016. Partly inspired by the moon, self-evidently, it was also prompted by the lights used for
photography. ‘I really like the frame of the spotlights
used in the photographic field and I thought that, if
I inserted a light in it, it would become a moon,’ he
Collapsible Moon, designed for Pallucco in 2016: ‘I like the frame
of the spotlights used in the photographic field. I thought that,
if I inserted a light in it, it would become a moon’
‘I prefer white or black. I do not like
the lamp to become the main object
in a room. Man is the main element
of the room, not the objects around’