Post-war Design: Stories of Innovation and Creativity.

Image: Clement Meadmore and George Kral
Photographer unknown, RMIT Design Archives, Melbourne

Now that the Mid-century Modern: Australian Furniture Design exhibition at Ian Potter Gallery in Melbourne is in full swing its a good time to catch up on some of the stories that set the scene for this exciting period in our design history. A great way to find out more about the post-war era in Australia is to check out fantastic offerings at  the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia.

There are plenty of free talks on offer as part of the Mid-century Modern exhibition program and the  NGV Blog has a fantastic collection of short essays on Australian mid-century design written by a diverse group of writers and researchers. From articles on Hayson Furniture, Michael Hirst and Beverley Ednie and Frances Burke Fabrics through to George Kral and concerns with mid-century foam upholstery, there is something of interest here for everybody.


And on the subject of mid-century, I highly recommend Chris Osborne’s ‘Australian Modern Design: Mid-20th Century Architecture & Design’ which is crammed full of archival photographs and fascinating stories about Australian mid-century design. The strength of this publication lies in its diverse range of articles about iconic Australian mid-century architects and designers, including Hayes and Scott, Fred Ward and Douglas Snellling. From the design of mid-century Gold Coast Motels, Modernist Churches and even an article on Vintage Caravan Love, the book presents a wonderful array of mid-century related subject matter. This hard back book, which comes in a slip case and is a limited edition of 1000 copies, makes a valuable contribution to our design history and is an excellent reference, as well as a great read.


Another great book is Fred Ward: Australian pioneer designer 1900-1990 by Derek F. Wrigley which is an excellent biography on  Australian designer Fred Ward, who played a major role in developing and promoting the modernist aesthetic in Australia. Ward is perhaps best known for his design work for the Myer Emporium in Melbourne and the Australian National University in Canberra. He also designed a range of low-cost furniture patterns called Patterncraft  and self-assemble ‘Timber-pack’ furniture in order to help returned service-men and women furnish their homes in the modern style. Wrigley had worked closely with Ward, making this book a highly informed and thoroughly engaging read. When you consider that Ward went to art school and was a self-taught designer, this is a truly inspiring story.

If you would like to see more photos of Australian mid-century furniture please visit the Australian Modern pinterest.
Mid-Century Modern: Australian Furniture Design at Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia ends October 19, so don’t miss out on your chance to see what is arguably the best exhibition of Australian mid-century furniture design in Australia.


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