taiki tea Japan house
Lifestyle and wellness

Exhibition: The Japanese House

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 minimalist 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