Exhibition / When Robin Boyd went to Japan

Curated by Marika Neustupny and Nigel Bertram

From the Robin Boyd Foundation:

Robin Boyd visited Japan in the 1960s, wrote about Japanese architects of that time, and was Exhibition Architect for the Australian Pavilion at the Osaka Expo ‘70.

This inhabitation of Walsh Street has been inspired by thinking about everyday life in Japan during the period Boyd was visiting and writing about Japanese architecture. The 1960s was an era when Japanese architects’ voices were beginning to be heard internationally; Boyd was both part of the dissemination of knowledge regarding Japanese design, and indisputably influenced by the work he saw. A significant topic of discussion within Japanese design culture at the time was how the beauty and specificity of everyday life in Japan could be retained whilst huge post-war social and economic change was taking place; urban reconstruction, modernisation and westernisation all at once. 

Physical models of selected Japanese architect-designed houses from the 1950s to 1970s are presented, as well as 1:1 adaptations of Walsh Street, including bringing Japanese designer items into the home and making a library space for displaying documents from Boyd’s travels. We can imagine the kinds of cultural interactions Boyd engaged in.

Curated by Marika Neustupny and Nigel Bertram, When Robin Boyd Went to Japan is a collaboration between the Robin Boyd Foundation, NMBW Architecture Studio and CIBI.

All tickets include:
– cold brew sencha tea and senbei
– exhibition catalogue

Explore our program of pop-up talks and activities below.
All pop-up talks and activities are included in the session ticket price.
For group, studio or student visits please contact: josephine@robinboyd.org.au

Opening Hours:
1 – 4 pm Wednesday – Friday
10 am – 4 pm Saturday – Sunday
Closed Monday – Tuesday

BOOK A TICKET (link to the exhibition page)

Events include:

Image: Tokyo, Japan. Slide taken by Robin Boyd, 1969. Walsh Street Archive. © Estate of Robin Boyd.

Floortalk: Marika Neustupny and Nigel Bertram
Sunday 18 February 10 – 11 am 
Thursday 29 February 1 – 2 pm
Sunday 10 March 1 – 2 pm

Join the curators of When Robin Boyd Went to Japan for a floortalk.

Image: Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum 1951-3, Hiroshima, Japan (Architect- Kenzo Tange.). Slide taken by Robin Boyd, 1961. Walsh Street Archive. © Estate of Robin Boyd.

Philip Goad: Japan through Boyd’s camera lens 
Sunday 18 February 1 – 2 pm 


From his first trip to Japan in 1961 to research his book on Kenzo Tange to his subsequent journeys as exhibit curator for the Australian Pavilion at Expo ‘70 Osaka – Boyd was a prolific and keen-sighted documenter of all things Japanese. Professor Philip Goad will explore scenes that caught Boyd’s eye, including his fascination with the unconventional architecture of many national pavilions.

Image: Sketch for 60-64 Clarendon St., East Melbourne, 1968, Robin Boyd. Image courtesy of RMIT Design Archives.

Green tea with Robin Boyd and Japanese Metabolism
Saturday 24 February 1 – 2 pm 

In an immersive Japanese/Boyd setting, join Marika Neustupny and Christine Phillips for a conversation that will explore a selection of Robin Boyd’s work in relation to several Japanese Metabolist projects. As an architect with Japanese heritage, Neustupny will bring to the conversation her own personal experience and knowledge of Japanese architecture while Phillips’ research into Boyd’s late works will add an intersecting layer to the discussion.

Image: Ume drying in Okayama. Courtesy of CIBI.

Slow Day with CIBI
Sunday 25 February, 11 am – 3 pm 

Founders Meg and Zenta Tanaka and the CIBI team will be at Walsh Street for a slow day of homestyle Japanese food and philosophy. Sip on matcha while we demonstrate organic stone fruit drying in the courtyard sunshine, in the style of ume, Japanese sour plum. Join in the conversation, taste and learn!

Image: Diorama of indigo dyers in the Indigo History Museum, Tokushima, Japan. Photo: Heather Thomas.

Indigo tenugui with Heather Thomas
Saturday 2 March, 10 am – 4 pm 


Join Heather Thomas, trainee dyer at the Australian Tapestry Workshop, for a day of demonstration and discussion on Japanese heritage indigo. Try your hand at indigo shibori, dyeing a sarashi to create a tenugui. Explore the exhibition while it dries in the courtyard sun. 

This activity is generously supported by the Australian Tapestry Workshop.

Image: Handmade Bathroom Tiles in situ at Walsh Street. Photograph: Mainroad Marketing

Everyday design in Japan
Sunday 3 March 2 – 3 pm

Find out more 
From storage to scissors, egg cups to sake cups – good design is everywhere in Japan. Sori Yanagi, Riki Watanabe, and Masahiro Mori led the postwar design boom – renowned for their technical skill, application of materials, and simple design aesthetics. They created iconic household objects for everyone’s – everyday use.

Convened by self-professed Japanophile Michelle Mackintosh, a panel comprising Jane Sawyer, Jenna Lee and Zenta Takana will discuss the benefits of embracing good design in daily life, what makes Japanese design iconic, and how they have embraced Japanese design and craft philosophies in their practices.

Everyday design in Japan is presented at MPavilion in the Queen Victoria Gardens.

Image: Internal spread, A Guide to Japanese Architecture (1971) gifted to Patricia Boyd by Kiyonori Kikutake in 1972. Walsh Street Archive. Photo: Mainroad Marketing.

Robin Boyd and Japan through our Archive
Saturday 9 March 11 am – 12 pm 

Alongside When Boyd Went to Japan, the Foundation’s Research & Collections team have curated a new online exhibition exploring Boyd’s connection to Japan and its architectural culture. This annotated encyclopedia of objects selected from the Walsh Street Archive, enriched by original research into the links Robin Boyd forged between the two countries. Highlighting domestic objects, photos, letters, written work and Japanese influence in Boyd’s design, Robin Boyd & Japan dives deep into a little-explored aspect of the architect’s life and work. 

Join Research and Collections volunteer Jonathan Russell, who will highlight key items from the Archive and discuss the connected stories they tell about Robin Boyd & Japan.

The exhibition and series is a collaboration betweeen the Robin Boyd Foundation, NMBW Architecture Studio and CIBI.