Ambientec reissues Samba-M, Shiro Kuramata’s glass goblet full of light

The Japanese portable-lighting brand Ambientec, launches a reissue of the “glass of light” created by the Tokyo design genius, Shiro Kuramata. This cultural and technological statement marks 30 years since Shiro Kuramata’s untimely death and was created for the Gallery Tamura Joe under the supervision of the Kuramata Design Office. Ambientec's specialization in elegant and portable lamps, draws on its exceptional technical skill to mass-produce this fascinating objet d’art. 


Photo credit: Hiroshi Iwasaki

Shiro Kuramata was one of the most important designers of the 20th century. His work was strongly influenced by surrealism and contemporary art, full of a free-spirited playfulness that stands in stark contrast to the efficiency-focused, market-oriented mainstream design of today. Drawing inspiration for a lamp from a common wine glass, an ordinary object found in every home, was a challenge.


Photo credit: Hiroshi Iwasaki

The story of Samba-M illustrates how it cannot be reduced to a mere tool for illuminating the darkness and is instead a true objet d’art. The original idea for the piece came in 1988, at the vernissage of the exhibition “In-Spiration,” when Kuramata surprised the guests (including Ron Arad and Zaha Hadid, both still unknown) by putting a bright red light in his glass of champagne. A playful gesture, but far from a simple joke: what Kuramata wanted to convey was the appeal of a design that existed in the space between products and artistic vision.

When Samba-M was first introduced in 1988, it was very difficult and expensive to produce, and only a small number were made available to the public. Today, Ambientec brings this whimsical piece back to life, ready to be touched, used, and enjoyed a goblet made of thin and double-layered glass, integrated with advanced LED technology. It lights up in shades of red at the softest touch, evoking the iridescent tones of the wine the maestro raised in a toast to the vernissage forty years ago.

Like all Ambientec portable lamps, the Samba-M reissue is waterproof, rechargeable, and powered by a long-lasting lithium-ion battery. Ambientec will present Samba-M along with its new collection at the supersalone curated by Stefano Boeri in Milan, September 5-10, 2021. 


Soft touch cardboard box containing Samba-M, Photo credit: Hiroshi Iwasaki

Ambientec’s lamps are “nomadic objects,” essential and poetic forms integrated with exclusive LED technology. Each product draws on Yoshinori Kuno’s extensive experience in the field of professional lighting for underwater photography, designed to illuminate the darkest depths of the ocean, bringing that technical expertise into the world of design.

Ambientec has developed a new edition of the lamp as a work of functional art, something to build a personal and sentimental relationship with. And perhaps no piece reflects that philosophy better than Samba-M, the ideal example of Shiro Kuramata’s irreverent, touching design.


Photo credit: Hiroshi Iwasaki

About Ambientec

Ambientec is a Japanese light design company, founded in 2009. Founder and CEO Yoshinori Kuno had previously created AOI Japan Co., Ltd. in 1999, specializing in the production of protective underwater cases for professional photography equipment and, later, a full line of professional lighting for underwater photography under the RGBlue brand, still a synonym for high-quality today. Ambientec was created to explore new frontiers in portable lighting for everyday spaces: from outdoors to the bath, from the home to the elegant café. Ambientec’s portable, rechargeable and waterproof lamps are made with masterful precision in ultra-sturdy materials that make them - in terms of both style and durability - indestructible.

About Shiro Kuramata (1934 – 1991)

His countercultural style creates unexpected relationships between objects, and his legacy is a major one for the whole design world. After earning a degree in architecture from the Tokyo Technical College, he began working for the furniture company Teikokukizai in 1953. In 1965, he founded the Kuramata Design Office. In the 1970s and 1980s, he explored the possibilities offered by emerging technologies and industrial materials. In 1981, he joined the Italian design collective known as the Memphis Group. He shared a playful spirit and passion for bold colors with the members of the group and became close friends with its founder Ettore Sottsass.

His surrealist vision revolutionizes everyday objects through a mix of art, craftsmanship, and design. Among his most disruptive designs are the steel mesh armchair “How High the Moon,” and the “Miss Blanche” armchair in clear methacrylate with colorful paper flowers embedded in the material. He also designed the “Progetti Compiuti” line of drawer units for Cappellini. He passed away prematurely in 1991, at the age of 56. Many of his works are on view in the permanent collections of major world museums including the Centre G. Pompidou in Paris, the MoMA Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Vitra Design Museum in Basel, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, and the National Museum of Modern Art in Kyoto.