Exhibition: The Japanese House

Exhibition: The Japanese House

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The Japanese House is an exhibition exploring Japanese post-war architecture and interior design.

The exhibition looks at how post-war Japan adapted to the cultural changes that it was facing, starting with a period of Westernisation as a result of the seven year Occupation by the Allied Forces.

It tackles a range of themes including the rise of feminism and the decline of the nuclear family as Japan's economy boomed in the 60s. It's a true exhibition of contrasts; the sleek minimilast design which permeates through Japanese architecture and interior that's set against an ever encroaching cityscape with overcrowding and rocketing land prices to boot. The exhibition uses Japanese films to brilliantly encapsulate the accompanying feelings of these developments by creating a sense of claustrophobia, surveillance, loneliness and an inherent desire to be closer to the natural world which is being destroyed as a direct result of development. 

The curators then put their visitors into the shoes of a voyeur, taking them on exploration around a to-scale Japanese House. You quickly find yourself wondering about the occupants, whose books, travel mementos, albums and art-work bring to the life the simple spaces they occupy.

The Barbican's own imposing concrete form blends seamlessly into the architecture itself and we're informed that concrete is a building material which has been wholly taken to heart by the Japanese; its fundamental components, sand and stone being from the earth. 

The exhibition resonates because it draws on the same issues and concerns of all urban societies. Ultimately though, it's a powerful display of the creativity and adaptability that comes with living in these spaces. 

The Japanese House: Architecture and Life After 1945 runs until 25th June 2017 at London's Barbican Centre


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