The Japanese House


The exhibition The Japanese House. Architecture & life after 1945, at MAXXI — Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo, focuses on the importance of the house design in Japan. Co-organized by the Japan Foundation, Tokyo and MAXXI – the National Museum of 21st Century Arts, Rome, and coproduced by the Japan Foundation, MAXXI, Barbican Centre and the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo.

The exhibition was a route through the work of archistars such as Kenzo Tange, Toyo Ito, Kazuyo Sejima and Shigeru Ban, as well as their masters less well known in the west such as Shirai, Shinohara, Sakamoto and extraordinarily promising youngsters. A combination of architectural tradition and innovation, of nature and artifice, ancient and technological advanced materials: the domestic space is the key to the entire metropolitan culture of contemporary Japan. The exhibition presents the essential aspects of the Japanese house, revealing the expressive richness of the designs and their capacity for creating an unexpected harmony between man, building and context.

Drawings, models, period and contemporary photographs, videos, interviews, film clips, mangas and works by artists make up the exhibition along with full-size models of fragments and sections of particularly significant buildings, in an installation designed by Atelier Bow-Wow in collaboration with the museum.

We were called by the Museum, to design the identity of The Japanese House exhibition. As we noticed immediately, the exhibition was very rich of materials, from Toyo Ito’s original architectural drawings to Ozu’s movies, from Kenzo Tange’s original architectural models in 1:100 scale to Atelier Bow-Wow’s reproduced building facade in 1:1 scale.

The goal for us was to create a strong identity without challenging the very well designed installation by Atelier Bow-Wow. In juxtaposition with the horizontality of the installation, in a Japanese way, we designed some vertical elements that contained all the information about the sections of the exhibition. We decided to put in contact the graphics, in a perceptive way, through full justified texts, with the traditional Japanese writing. In addition we reflected on the exhibition’s materials and we decided to use only wood and paper: the combination of these two materials in different ways gave to the exhibition a strongly identity and made all the graphics perfectly integrated with the installation.

Curated by Pippo Ciorra in collaboration with Kenjiro Hosaka (National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo) and Florence Ostende (Barbican Centre, Londra). Chief Advisor Yoshiharu Tsukamoto.

Exhibition design by Atelier Bow-Wow.

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