Five Friends from Japan


Cambridge Seven Associates

Practice Area


Boston Children’s Museum

Project Vision

This exhibit captures a view of life through the eyes of five Japanese children by introducing a typical Japanese classroom and five different home and family settings. The exhibit goals are to foster awareness and understanding among children in the U.S. for people from other cultures, provide compelling exhibition experiences in Japanese culture, and learn about the complexity of a specific culture: Japan.

The journey begins as the new friends magically spring to life through an audiovisual show displayed on large plasma screens camouflaged as chalkboards in the Japanese schoolroom. Then, portals beckon visitors to make the transition from the classroom to each friend’s home. A bold graphic shows the friend and the exterior of his or her home to orient visitors and introduce what they will find inside each room. Audio recordings in the portals subtly reinforce the transition to a new environment.

For graphics, Cambridge Seven Associates drew from publications that target young audiences in Japan, interpolating the busy and bold type, outlined lettering, patterned backgrounds, boxes and bubbles, and strong colors.

Project Details
The inventive use of video hosts caught my attention as a particularly successful way to engage the museum visitor and draw them into the content. Exhibition title graphics – color and type – communicate a Japanese sensibility that speaks to the young target audience.
Juror 1
Design Team

Peter Kuttner, FAIA (Principal in Charge), Penny Sander, Douglas Simpson, Radoslav Mateev

Design Firm

Cambridge Seven Associates


Multimedia Systems Design (AV consultant); Hughes Associates, Inc. (life safety consultant); People, Place and Design Research (audience research); Harvard University’s Asia Center (content advisor); Japan-America Society (content advisor)


Boston Children’s Museum, Research Casting International (specialty fabrication), CTT Furniture (japanese millwork)