June 1, 2011 § 1 Comment

Ray Komai side chair

This is my favorite chair IN THE WORLD, and not only because of the story behind the designer… to follow… I love how the veneer is folded in order to form an almost natural bookmatch, the custom hardware, the geometry, it is perfect!

The Komai side chair, which is no longer in production was originally produced by J.G. Furniture in Brooklyn (a company that mostly manufactures truly terrible office furniture systems these days). It was designed in 1949, only four years after Komai was relocated from the Manzanar Japanese internment camp. Following evacuation to Manzanar, Ray and his wife resettled in Washington, D.C., and then came on to New York, where Ray was employed as a layout artist. Ray received his commercial art training in Los Angeles and New York and while in Manzanar worked as a designer in the industrial division. American’s have long been fascinated with Japanese design and architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright perhaps being the most prominent of Japanese enthusiasts. I could go on here for a while, about how America’s fascination with the Japanese was perversely twisted by the war… but instead I’ll just leave you with some further readings… America’s Geisha Ally: Reimagining the Japanese Enemy by Naoko Shibusawa, Embracing Defeat by John Dower, and for a peek into American anthropological thought on the Japanese during the time, Ruth Benedict’s The Sword and The Chrysanthemum.

The Paulistano armchair by P. Mendes da Rocha, preeminant Brazilian Brutalist and master of the steel handrail comes in at a distant 2nd.


§ One Response to RAY KOMAI

  • Mia says:

    Thank you for this post, very interesting : )

    I would like to find more info about the designer, his works and biography, but it’s been hard on the internet. I could not find any books about him either, do you have any suggestions for further readings on Ray Komai?

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