Opening at Walsh Street on February 18th, When Robin Boyd Went to Japan is a fascinating and immersive exhibition inspired by Boyd’s experience of everyday life in Japan during a visit in the 1960s.

Curated by founding directors of NMBW Marika Neustupny and Nigel Bertram, When Robin Boyd Went to Japan is a collaboration between the Robin Boyd Foundation, NMBW Architecture Studio and CIBI. During his visit, Boyd wrote about the mid-century Japanese architects of acclaim during that time and held the role of Exhibition Architect for the Australian Pavilion at the Osaka Expo ‘70.

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

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.

“By exploring physical models of selected Japanese architect-designed houses from the 1950s to 1970s, 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”, says curator Marika Neustupny.

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

An accompanying program of pop-up talks and activities includes;

- Pop-up talk Green Tea with Robin Boyd and Japanese Metabolism with Marika Neustupny and Christine Phillips

Ume drying in Okayama. Courtesy of CIBI.

When Robin Boyd Went to Japan is on between 18 February – 10 March 2024 at 290 Walsh Street South Yarra. You can purchase tickets here; exhibition tickets include a cold brew of Sencha tea and Senbei to enjoy in the Walsh Street courtyard sun.