Christine Bjerke Explores the World of the FX Beauties, the Future-Facing Housewives

The architect has created a digital platform to study Japanese women not in active employment but who invest in the stock market.


WordsClémence Leleu

© Market Watch

(On the Floating World of) the FX Beauties is a project by architect Christine Bjerke that examines the phenomenon of the FX Beauties, Japanese housewives who invest their money online and subvert the conventions of the role of women in Japanese society. ‘Many of the members have started trading digital currencies on the Forex market (a currency trading market – ed.) in between their domestic tasks like looking after children or home maintenance. They represent the dilemma that many women face: whether to choose their family or their career’, the architect explains. It was while studying for her masters at University College London that she began exploring the subject, after having read an article in the New York Times on the FX Beauties. 

Christine Bjerke is particularly interested in the impact of this activity on the organisation and spatial logic of the domestic sphere. ‘What happens when the home also becomes a place where profits are made? What does it mean to inhabit both the physical space of the home and the virtual global space of financial savings?’


A platform with diverse contributors

To answer these questions, she created the platform (On the Floating World of) the FX Beauties where she invites researchers, authors and architects to post their views on the societal, cultural, financial, and spatial impact of this movement. ‘I select the contributors in such a way as to create an interdisciplinary platform, which questions the complexity of this subject on different levels. Each contributor presents research, reflections, and ideas that I consider important’, Christine Bjerke explains.

For example, British architect Jack Self posted Housewifization, an essay in which he asserts that the compact, minimalist Japanese interiors were specially designed for a full-time housewife, whose primary role is to support her husband. The Japanese domestic space is used uniquely for a few basic functions: eating, sleeping, and washing. The FX Beauties disrupt this order by demanding that it occupy a new function, without so much as impacting its organisation. The architect also describes the western perception of the Japanese as ‘a population at once rooted in ways of living that haven’t changed in thousands of years, and occupying a kind of digitally advanced future’. The FX Beauties embrace this paradox as, by conforming to the traditional roles of wife and mother, they enjoy a new financial power thanks to the use of digital technology that has entered homes.

Christine Bjerke is also working on a book taken from the platform (On the Floating World of) the FX Beauties, which will contain many of the interviews and essays posted online. ‘The project explores the state of being between the physical and digital domains, so I wanted to study both the format of a website and of a printed book’, the architect concludes.


(On the Floating World of) the FX Beauties (2013), a project and website created by Christine Bjerke.

‘On the Floating World of the FX Beauties’ © Christine Bjerke

‘On the Floating World of the FX Beauties’ © Christine Bjerke