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McCormick Gallery Information

320 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02115

8 am–10:30 pm
8 am–8 pm

All exhibitions are free and open to the public


Obento and Built Space: Japanese Boxed Lunch and Architecture

Exhibition in McCormick Gallery

Hiroshi Nakamura’s Gallery Sakuranoki model

Hiroshi Nakamura’s Gallery Sakuranoki model

Image courtesy of Hiroshi Nakamura

  • 02/17/2015  to 04/20/2015

  • McCormick Gallery
    Boston Architectural College
    320 Newbury Street
    Boston, MA 02115

  • karen.nelson@the-bac.edu

  • Free and open to the public

  • Exhibitions

Obento and Built Space: Japanese Boxed Lunch and Architecture examines the material and social culture of bento boxes and how they inspire architects and designers to think about the potential of emptiness, craft, portability, and sustainability. Using miniature environments that individuals carry with them as a touchstone for good design, we explore formal and experiential principles. We share the story of one manufacturer of bento boxes and the art of making a carefully crafted boxed lunch in relation to the recipient, to the season, and to the maker's intent.

Like good architecture, bento boxes are ordered and arranged, set within the landscape of furoshiki - a cloth that serves as both bag and placemat. Bento boxes from the collection of Debra Samuels, Japanese food specialist and cookbook author, and the work of architects and artists Hiromi Fujii, Sou Fujimoto, KOKO Architecture + Design, Glenn Murcutt, Hiroshi Nakamura, Patkau Architects, and Aat + Makoto Yokomizo create a dialogue between two scales of work: micro (bento) and macro (architecture). Each scale has its own ways of coming into being through transaction, materiality, modularity, mobility, completeness and compactness. Each work has an explicit function and an aspiration to hold cultural expression in its form.


Read more about the ideas behind the exhibit and the connection between bento boxes and architecture on the popular architecture website Curbed.

This exhibit and programming are generously supported by the United States-Japan Foundation and the Boston Architectural College.