How to find Australian Modern furniture

You’ve seen all the home magazines and you know
what you like, but how do you land that beautiful vintage
piece? Well, there are a number of ways to go about it.
Whether it’s an auction, ebay,  op shop, Sunday market, or
one of the many many secondhand dealers who
specialize in mid-century modern, it is still possible
to land yourself a bargain.

Handcrafted Australian hardwood table
by Prestige (1950’s) found in a Bendigo Op Shop.

The most important thing to remember is that you
should always do your research and never assume
that the dealer knows everything. Knowledge is a
funny thing, and you will find that collectors often
focus on particular eras or manufacturers and
designers. Educating yourself on Australian design
can help you to fill in the knowledge gaps and grab
those bargains that many dealers aren’t too sure

Just recently I was at an anique centre in rural Victoria
where I saw a set of 6 1950’s Knoll scissor chairs for $2500.
Considering a pair of these chairs sells for around $3000,
what a bargain! So there are opportunities out there.

Sunday markets and op shops can provide those lucky
buys from time to time. Remember, many people think
vintage furniture is old, ugly and out of date. Hey, but
we know better. Try to get to markets relatively early,
as they are often frequented by dealers who get there
at first light. Op shops can still present the odd treat,
but you have to venture out of town if you wanna find
gold. Outer suburban oppies in older areas can be great
for uncovering 1950’s Australian furniture, kitchenware and

Australian occasional table (Steel, timber,
laminate and brass) maker unknown (1950’s)
found recently in a Dandenong Op Shop

Also, check out the country auctions. Most people are looking
for shabby chic and traditional antiques at these auctions,
which means that you may be the only bidder in the room
when the handler presents that mid-century chair of your
dreams. Remember though, set yourself a price and try to
stick to it. If the piece has damage, you need to consider if
it can be fixed, and if so, how much will it cost to gently
restore it.

Meadmore cord chair (1952)

A good case in point here is the Clement Meadmore cord
chair (above) from the 1950’s. You can score one of these for
under $100 at most inner city auctions, but more often than not
the cord is damaged and needs replacing. To get this done
professionally will cost you around $250, but you may be
able to buy the chair fully restored at a dealer for $350.

On the subject of repairs, always get a professional to
do the tough jobs. Most furniture dealers can point
you in the direction of a reputable craftsman. Always
try to maintain the integrity of the furniture and avoid
using synthetic stains and cheap fabrics. If you spend
the money, the piece will provide you with many happy
years of pleasure: it should also hold its value.

Another way to snare a mid-century bargain is to put the
word out in your circle of friends and family. It may surprise
you just what some people have in their garage.

Try not to get too obsessed with the big names in Australian
post-war furniture design because there are loads of
obscure manufacturers who made some great looking
pieces. The most important thing about furniture is that
it gives you joy.


4 thoughts on “How to find Australian Modern furniture

  1. Hey there – – recently stumbled upon your blog as i am starting to try and bring the furniture collection of our house back into the work of australian designers. In saying that i was wondering how much information you might have on Fler furniture. I love this stuff and in particular i was interested to know if Fler created any wall units? Any information or advice would be greatly appreciated. Brisbane is a bit off the action for mid century furniture but you can still find a few pieces from time to time. Cheers from the north. Mark


    • Hi Mark,

      Apologies for the delay in getting back to you. I know that Fler did a range of
      Modular cabinets in the early 1950’s as well as a sideboard. I will find a pic for
      you and email them in the coming week.

      Thanks for reading the blog.



  2. There’s a terrific biography on Fred Lowen, which expands on his internment and post-War experiences, as well as documenting his subsequent furniture design and furnishing businesses…


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