Shiro Kuramata studied architecture at Tokyo Polytechnic in Tokyo until 1953. Then he spent a year working for Teikokukizai, the Japanese furniture manufacturer. Until 1956 Shiro Kuramata studied interior design at the Kuwazawa Institute for Design in Tokyo. From 1957 until 1963 Shiro Kuramata worked for Maysuya, the Tokyo department store.
In 1965 he founded his own design practice. As an interior designer, Shiro Kuramata designed more than three hundred bars and restaurants and also designed furniture. Shiro Kuramata became famous overnight in 1977 for the S-shaped, curvilinear "Drawer in an Irregular Form", a piece of storage furniture in black stained ash with the drawer fronts lacquered white.
In the 1980s, Shiro Kuramata designed numerous sensational pieces of furniture, for which he used unusual materials or invented entirely new uses. The "Miss Blanche" chair is an utterly original and poetic invention of Shiro Kuramata's; red paper rosebuds are molded into the transparent seat of acrylic resin. In 1986 Shiro Kuramata designed "How High the Moon", a piece of seat furniture with voluminous forms, made of nickel-plated expanded metal, sheet metal slotted and stretched into a mesh or lattice, a construction that lends this chair a light and airy transparency. In 1976 Shiro Kuramata came up with the "Glass Chair", consisting entirely of slabs of glass glued together with a new type of adhesive. In the 1980, Shiro Kuramata also designed several pieces of furniture for Memphis, which are notably more sophisticated and aesthetically reticent than other designs produced by Memphis. The Shiro Kuramata designs for Memphis include the "Kyoto" (1983) table of stained concrete and "Sally" (1987), a table made of metal and broken glass. For Issey Miyake, Shiro Kuramata designed boutiques from 1984 in Paris, Tokyo, and New York.
In 1988 Shiro Kuramata moved to Paris, where he set up a design practice in the rue Royal. Shiro Kuramata's designs are executed by Aoshima Shoten, Cappellini, Fijiko, Ishimaru, Kurosaki, Mhoya Glass Shop, Vitra, and other distinguished firms.