Journal Article

Staging Identity: Australian Design Innovation at Expo ‘70, Osaka

Carolyn Barnes and Simon Jackson

in Journal of Design History

Published on behalf of Design History Society

Volume 25, issue 4, pages 400-413
Published in print November 2012 | ISSN: 0952-4649
Published online September 2012 | e-ISSN: 1741-7279 | DOI:
Staging Identity: Australian Design Innovation at Expo ‘70, Osaka

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Australia’s pavilion at the 1970 Japan World Exposition, Osaka, gave physical form to a narrative of Australian innovation during a critical period of change in the nation’s economic and geo-political circumstances. The pavilion’s primary role was to advance Australian relations with Japan, which replaced Britain as Australia’s main trading partner in 1966. Australia’s appeal to Japan unfolded on two levels. A profusion of artefacts exemplified Australian inventiveness, extending back to the rural sphere in the colonial period and culminating in the contemporary example of the Repco Brabham Formula One racing car engine. The representation of Australian inventiveness was amplified by the image and experience of the pavilion architecture, configured for maximum impact; it took the form of a free-hanging circular roof suspended from a giant cantilever, its main display area an immersive, multimedia environment. Although an objectified representation of the nation, the pavilion reflects a process of national identity transformation that aligned Australia’s image with international modernisation trends, to produce a new sense of Australian destiny as linked to industrialisation and the Asia-Pacific region.

Keywords: Australia; Australia–Japan; Australian innovation; expositions universelles; industrial design; Japan; national identity; 1970 Japan World Exposition; 1970s

Journal Article.  6744 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Art ; Art Forms ; Industrial and Commercial Art ; Art Styles

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