Who else better than Japanese creative Studio Nendo would curate the design exhibition of ‘Japan: Tradition. Innovation’ at the Canadian Museum of Civilization. Honoring Japan’s impact on contemporary design and technology, the installation is divided into five sections devoted respectively to transportation, robotic technology, social status, consumer culture and play. Rather than constructing temporary interior walls they use ‘roofs’ in a variety of sizes and heights to demarcate the different exhibits and with a graphic subway map-like graphic on the floor it allows visitors to identify the different zones.
Areas under larger, lower roofs are ‘closed’ spaces, and the light that falls between the many smaller roofs like sunbeams filtering through leaves creates a ‘half-outdoor’ space.
Visitors look out into ‘outside spaces’ from underneath the roofs and -conversely- peer back into ‘inside spaces’, producing a hybrid, effervescently-changing space in which the relationship between inside and outside can never be known for sure.
At first glance, clearly-defined lines of movement seem to have disappeared, and objects to be jumbled about in no visible order, but in actual fact, the space is subtly, carefully divided using the invisible space-defining practices of ‘ma’ and ‘shikiri’, which have existed in Japan since ancient times.
The result: the massive space loses its homogeneity, and provides visitors with the chaotic spatial experience of Japanese urban space.