Sori Yanagi was born on June 29th, 1915 in Harajuku, Tokyo. He was born Satoshi Hazime (柳宗理) and goes by Satoshi Hazime in Japan. Only outside of Japan is he referred to as Sori Yanagi. He attended the Tokyo School of Art in 1934, and graduated from the Tokyo Fine Arts School in 1940. For 2 years after graduating, he worked for known designer Charlotte Perriand. He was a researcher during the war, but after the war he founded the Yanagi Industrial Design Institute in 1952. In 1955 he became a professor at the Kanazawa College of Art (he currently acts as a visiting professor at the same college).
He won his first award in 1957 for his “Butterfly Stool” that he created in 1954. It is still his best known work – two curved pieces of plywood stuck together to create a seat/chair. That same year he created what is known as the “Elephant Stool,” a stool made of fiberglass reinforced polyester.
From then on he worked on a number of different designs. He created the torch container for the 1964 Olympics. He created the 1970 Sapporo Winter Olympics torch cars, as well as the Yokohama City Subway Station Equipment in 1973, and the walls of the Tomei Expressway in Tokyo tollgate in 1980.