Face to Face

Shiseido and the Manufacture of Beauty, 1900-2000

Face to Face was an exhibition design on the ideals of beauty, make-up, and modernity as viewed through the lens of Shiseido, a global cosmetics corporation.

The exhibition design was organized around the display of the artifacts within four time periods, Meiji, Art Deco, Pop, and Zen.  Conceptually the gallery was divided into four quadrants around the perimeter, allowing for those periods to be understood as a linear, chronological sequence.  Simultaneously, a middle zone, the area of Face to Face, provided alternative readings of the chronology by allowing and, in fact at times encouraging, viewers to glance between the various periods to reveal other relationships.


Face to Face was a display of black and white photographs of everyday Japanese women from the different time periods to reveal changing conceptions of beauty and the influence of western cultures on eastern identity.  It was a zone of interaction “inviting visitors to reflect upon their own cultural values and the choices of identity that characterize modern life.”  It allowed both the chance and the predetermined alignments of specific objects and of the people viewing the exhibition.  It was a space of interpretation, a space between.  Face to Face reversed the conditions of inside and outside, interiority and exteriority, by allowing specific parts of the exhibition to be viewed from the “back” while inside was a more intimate gallery of faces. The interstitial space of Face to Face allowed for the possibility that connections would be made across groupings, that histories may be shared, or that viewers would come face to face with each other.


New York, NY


Grey Art Gallery, Lynn Gumbert



MFA Design Team

Scott Marble, Karen Fairbanks, Todd Rouhe, Jake Nishimura, David Riebe

Steel Fabricator/Design Consultant

Product & Design

Acrylic Fabricator



Shuli Sade