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Everyday Design in Japan

Sun March 3rd @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm AEDT

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.  

“My pleasure as a designer is to conceive of forms for daily use, and to create pieces for production in the factory so that many people can appreciate and enjoy them” – Masahiro Mori.

Convened by Japanese guide book author Michelle Mackintosh, a panel comprising Jane Sawyer, Jenna Lee and Zenta Tanaka 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, and is free to attend. Registration is not required.

This talk is part of the When Robin Boyd Went to Japan exhibition public program taking place at Walsh Street from 18 February – 10 March 2024. Find out more.  

Jane Sawyer is a Melbourne maker and educator known for her ceramic objects where the role of function is as equally considered as the conceptual underpinning by research and enquiry. A degree in art education/teaching, majoring in ceramics, led Jane to specialist full-time studio training with ceramic artist Andrew Halford, Sydney (1982-85) and Shussai-gama, Japan (1985-87). She exhibits nationally and internationally and is a member of the International Academy or Ceramics. A committed educator, she is the founding director of Slow Clay Centre, Melbourne, where she passes on the techniques she learnt as an apprentice in Japan.

Jenna Lee is a Gulumerridjin (Larrakia), Wardaman and KarraJarri Saltwater woman with mixed Japanese, Chinese, Filipino and Anglo-Australian ancestry. Driven to create work in which she, her family, and the broader mixed First Nations community see themselves represented, Lee builds on a foundation of her father’s teachings of culture and her mother’s teachings of paper craft. As an interdisciplinary artist, Lee works across installation, projection, photography and sculpture with a reoccurring use of paper, the book, language and text. Formally trained as a graphic designer Lee works as an independent designer specialising in book cover, publication and exhibition identity design. Lee has designed for publishers and institutions like UQP, Hardie Grant, Fremantle Press, NGA, MUMA, IMA, Powerhouse Museum, TarraWarra and Rising Festival. 

Zenta Tanaka founded CIBI with his partner Meg in 2008 to blend their backgrounds and experience in food, wine, design and architecture. With spaces in both Melbourne and Tokyo CIBI is a lifestyle concept store that seeks happiness in design, food and space, everyday. Japanese sensibilities and their evolving Australian lifestyles are combined to create a warm and welcoming world. Above all else, it should appeal to the three driving elements that drive CIBI; head, hands and heart. 

Michelle Mackintosh (Convenor) is an award-winning book designer, illustrator and stationery designer. She spends around three months of each year in Japan – her home away from home. Michelle, together with partner Steve Wide, has written, photographed and designed eleven books on Japanese culture: Tokyo Precincts, Kyoto Pocket Precincts, Tokyo Pocket Precincts, Osaka Pocket Precincts, Onsen of Japan, Mindfulness Travel Japan Hidden Pockets in Kyoto (all Hardie Grant Explore) Tokyo, Japan (Plum Books), Pretend You’re in Tokyo (Harper Collins), and Be More Japan (DK).

This event is generously supported by MPavilion.

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

Thank you to our program partners NMBW Architecture Studio, CIBI, MPavilion, MADA, Monash University, Australian Tapestry Workshop, Mainroad Marketing, Konpira Maru Wines, Four Pillars Gin and Molly Rose Brewing

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


Sun March 3rd
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm AEDT


M Pavillion
Queen Victoria Gardens
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Robin Boyd Foundation


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