Sori Yanagi: Acclaimed designer


Sori Yanagi, whose designs for stools and kitchen pots brought the simplicity and purity of Japanese decor into the everyday, died on 25 December at the age of 96.

Yanagi's curvaceous "butterfly stool", evocative of a Japanese shrine gate, won an award at La Triennale di Milano in 1957 and helped elevate him to international stature. The work later joined the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Louvre museum in Paris.

Another typical Yanagi design was the stackable plastic stool, humorously referred to as the "elephant stool", because of its resemblance to the animal's chunky feet. The lines and curves of Yanagi designs were as distinctly Japanese as they were universal, winning him fans – and a place in homes not only in Japan but around the world – for his tea pots, ceramic cups, and even the whisk.

Yanagi was born in Tokyo in 1915, the son of a philosopher, choosing design for his career after falling in love with the work of Le Corbusier. He supported Japanese traditional art throughout his life, and served as head of the Japan Folk Crafts Museum in Tokyo, which his father founded.