Lind House receives State Heritage Listing

The battle to save Lind House, designed by emigre architect Anatol Kagan, united mid-century enthusiasts from across the country in a battle to save the important home from demolition. Too often, important buildings are demolished and replaced with lack lustre apartments, and that’s exactly the fate the developers had planned for Lind House. But this is no ordinary home, Lind House is an important example of European Modernism in Melbourne, a building that retains many of its original features.

It was great to see so many people getting behind the campaign to save Lind House and putting pressure on the Glen Eira Council and State Government to rescue the important home from the wrecking ball that has claimed far too many modernist buildings in Australia.

The good news is that the cultural significance of Lind House has finally been recognised and it has been added to the Victorian Heritage Register. According to an article in the Herald Sun, the developer sold the house to a young family who are keen to restore and maintain the home.

The campaign to save Lind House is proof that people power can work, and that it’s worth fighting to save the things that you value in life. I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who took the time to contact the council and politicians, and those at the coal face who wrote detailed submissions to secure the future of Lind House. Together we are many, so let’s keep spreading the mid-century love so that others can see the beauty of mid-century modernist design.

You can read all about the decision to heritage list Lind House here: https://architectureau.com/articles/anatol-kagan-house-receives-state-heritage-listing/

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Grant and Mary Featherston: Design for Life

One of the most anticipated events this year has to be the Grant and Mary Featherston exhibition to be held at the Heide Museum of Art in Bulleen, Melbourne. Curated by Kirsty Grant and Denise Whitehouse, the exhibition explores the Featherston partnership, acknowledging the design contributions of Mary Featherston.

Grant, the senior curator of the popular Mid-Century Modern: Australian Furniture Design exhibition held at NGV Ian Potter in 2014, and Whitehouse a Featherston scholar, make an ideal team to deliver this important survey of the Featherston’s design practice. Whitehouse’s knowledge of the dynamic design duo is built from years of detailed research, including extensive interviews with Mary Featherston. Whitehouse is also a fantastic writer, so the catalogue essay is sure to be a highlight.

The exhibition is a rare opportunity to see many rare Featherston chairs, and gain some insight into the influences that shaped the planning and production of these iconic furniture designs.

Australian Mid-Century Design continues to capture people’s imagination, and this exhibition showcases the work of one of Australia’s most iconic design partnerships. Don’t miss out and be sure to get a catalogue before they sell out.

The exhibition opens in June, so in the meantime head over to the Featherston Archive for more Featherston design pleasure.

Date:  30 June 7 October 2018

Location:  Heide III: Central Galleries

Curator/s:  Kirsty Grant and Denise Whitehouse / Project Curator: Kendrah Morgan

Admission:  Included with Museum Pass

Clement Meadmore and the Art Of Mid-Century Design

At Australian Modern we are truly passionate about Australian Mid-Century Design, so it may not come as a surprise when we tell you that we have been working on a very special design project. What is this project you may well ask? It’s the first major survey of Clement Meadmore’s industrial design practice from 1951-1963.

The exhibition will include newly discovered designs that have never been exhibited and a rare opportunity to see Clem’s furniture and lighting designed for the iconic Legend Cafe and Teahouse in Melbourne.

At the moment we are busy working on the catalogue, but I can say that the exhibition will is planned for November, 2018. You can expect an official announcement in the coming weeks.

The Legend Cafe, designed by Clement Meadmore, 1956.

The exhibition is 10 years in the making and will feature furniture, lighting, graphic design, and archival images. We have managed to locate most of Clem’s designs, but there are still a some designs from the Meadmore Originals catalogue that have managed to allude us. Can you help find the missing designs? It would be fantastic to include them in the exhibition.

If you have any information on these missing designs (see below) please email me at: australianmodern@yahoo.com.au

Australian Art for Mid-Century Spaces


Tim Ross on ABC Televion program Streets Of Your Town, 2016.

When we look closely at classic mid-century homes, we often see carefully curated spaces that convey the tastes, values, and aspirations of their owners. But there is much more to these interiors than furniture and lighting.  Whether it be paintings, ceramics, glass, textiles or sculptures, such art works play a major role in turning a room of vintage pieces into a dynamic interior that invites relaxation and/or contemplation.
So how do you go about choosing art for a mid-century inspired interior? Well that depends on a number of factors, such as room size, budget and personal taste. Everyone is different, therefore it’s important that you embrace your individuality and select artworks that are meaningful to you. Avoid making choices based on colour schemes or matching your furniture. Be bold and trust your judgement.


Sydney Ball, Canto IX, 2002-2003.

Whereas some people like to buy only mid-century artworks, I think it’s good to mix it up. As much as I admire mid-century design, I don’t want to feel like I’m living in a museum. Contemporary art is a great way to add visual interest and at the same time support the creative economy.

Rather than buying prints, always buy original artworks. If you would never buy a copy of a vintage chair, why would you buy a cheap print?Auction houses and artist run spaces are great sources of affordable original artworks.

Buying art is an adventure, be open minded and take the time to learn about art history. The more you learn about art, the more you will appreciate the art in your space. It’s also a good idea to read up on particular artists you like. It’s good to get a sense of the way their work has evolved over the years and what their work is all about. You may find that you only like work from a certain period, or you may just think everything by that artist is simply brilliant. But when it comes to buying that original artwork, only buy what you like, not what you think others might like. Remember, the main thing is that you feel a connection to the work.

David Aspden, Window IV, 1968.

There is original art to fit all tastes and budgets. If you like to collect, then small works on paper are often good value, and are also a great way to build your art collection. If size matters, then look for large works that will compliment your space. Sometimes a collection of small art works on one wall can be just as engaging, and have as much impact as a single large scale work.

If all this talk has got you thinking about art, then check out the fantastic Re-Purpose exhibition at Drill Hall Gallery in Canberra. Re-Purpose runs from Fri 11 November — Sun 18 December 2016 and features work by 3 generations of international and Australian artists. You can also read a review of the exhibition.

Here are just a few of my favourite Australian contemporary artists.

Peter Atkins: EP PROJECT, 2016.
http://peteratkins.com.au/

Dana Harris: spoolworks 2010 – 12, yarn spools bound with cotton thread, variable dimensions.
http://danaharris.com.au/home

Emma Langridge: Except, 2016 enamel / acrylic on wood
approx 30 x 20cm.
http://www.emmalangridge.com/

 

Kenji Uranishi: Momentary, a collection of ceramic works exhibited
at Brisbane Museum.
http://www.kenjiuranishi.com.au/

Momentary, a collection of ceramic works exhibited at Brisbane Museum.

 

Jane Brown: Outback netball, White Cliffs, New South Wales, 2014/16.  http://www.janebrownphotography.com/

 

Bryan Spier Multiplicity, 2011 Synthetic polymer on canvas board 30 x 40cm.
http://bryanspier.com

George Doukoff: The man behind the ‘Volkschair’.

Image
George Doukoff and his ‘Volkschair’. (image: National Library of Australia).

A chair can be many things to many people, but can a chair actually improve
your wellbeing? According to Bulgarian born designer George Doukoff,
who in 1958 designed the “Volkschair”, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’.
Doukoff had learnt his furniture making skills as a youth living in Sofia,
Bulgaria before moving to Hungary where he practiced his trade between
1936-1945. He then moved to Belguim and later migrated to Australia in
1951, taking with him his wife, a Hungarian chemist whom he had met
in Germany.

Doukoff spent four years working as a tram driver in Brisbane before
opening a small furniture manufacturing business specialising in the design
and production of chairs. By 1956, Doukoff’s moved his growing business,
along with his nine employees, to a newly established store and workshops
in Brisbane, where he developed new designs for easy chairs, dining chairs,
kitchen chairs, and bedroom chairs. But according to Doukoff, he was
“always searching for THE chair. It had to be
 comfortable and
adaptable for use in schools, hospitals 
and public transport
as well as in homes…
 And its price had to be right”.

Image
The ‘Volkschair’ also known as the ‘Health line chair’.

After dozens of experiments, the ‘Volkschair’ (also referred to by
Doukoff as the ‘Health line chair’) was designed and produced to
meet the requirements of both government institutions and the
everyday home. Like Australian designer Grant Featherston who
had considered the nexus between the comfort and the human
form when he designed his ‘contour’ range of chairs, it may be
said that Doukoff also strived to design a chair that would reduce
stress and strain on the user whilst providing high levels of comfort.

The chair features a single piece of upholstered moulded plywood
to form the back and seat, set off by timber armrests. Produced in
two models, customers could choose from timber or steel legs.
A feature of the chair is the ability to unscrew the entire frame,
arms, legs and base, making it easy to remove the seat from the
solid maple frame for cleaning or recovering. The one-piece
plywood back, made from gluing and pressing three pieces
of 3/16 inch plywood, is covered with a half inch foam rubber
which is then upholstered in ‘plastic hide’, or fabric.

The chair, designed for use in hospitals, schools, and domestic
dwellings received high praise from both Commonwealth and
Queensland State health authorities. According to an article
published in The Cumberland Argus in 1958, ‘Doukoff and Co’,
the Brisbane based manufacturer, were producing one hundred
Volkschairs a week but planned to mass-produce the chair for
use in schools and hospitals. Doukoff’s use of “new methods” to
inform the development and production of a chair design that
was comfortable, affordable and easily dismantled for cleaning
and/or recovering is a great example of the innovation and creativity
exhibited by so many émigré designers, artists and craftspeople who
found themselves producing furniture during the post-war period in
Australia. People like Fred Lowen, Schulim Krimper, Steven Kalmar,
George Korody and Dario Zoureff to name but a few.

Today you can still find examples of George Doukoff’s beautiful ‘Volkschair’,
and I think its fair to say that the chair still continues to deliver comfort
and a feeling of wellbeing. Thank you George.

References:

  1. The Cumberland Argus (Parramatta, NSW : 1950 – 1962), Wednesday 5 February 1958, page 6
  2. The Cumberland Argus (Parramatta, NSW : 1950 – 1962), Wednesday 17 September 1958, page 5
  3. Destination Australia: Sharing our Post-war Migrant Stories

Modernist Australia: Building a Modernist Community.

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The Kelly House 1, Bellevue Hill, 1956. Photo Max Dupain.

After a long hiatus it’s great to see those tireless supporters of modernist architecture, and all round good guys, Modernist Australia
back on the mid-century scene with a new website and even more fantastic listings of modernist homes for sale across Australia.

For those not familiar with Modernist Australia, the site has played an important role in building awareness of modernist architecture, whilst featuring profiles of modernist homes currently for sale across Australia. From beach shacks to iconic architect designed homes, the Modernist Australia team are dedicated to preserving mid-century Australian architecture.

The new site also features an archive where you can check out some of the incredible homes that have been and gone; some thankfully saved by enthusiasts whilst others are unfortunately too often demolished to make way for new builds.

I am reminded of a 1950’s wall lamp for sale on eBay last year. On contacting the seller I was informed that the lamp would need to be removed from the wall of a home in Brighton designed by iconic architect Robin Boyd that was soon to be demolished. These stories are perhaps not uncommon, and as our modernist buildings continue to vanish from our urban spaces, it’s good to know that there are people out there that still believe in good design and preserving our post-war design history. The MA crew bring a wealth of knowledge and passion that makes their website one of the best mid-century Australian architecture resources on the web.

So check out the Modernist Australia site and lose yourself in the world of modernist architecture. Who knows, perhaps you might find your dream home.

Mid-Century Modern: Australian Furniture Design Exhibition.

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Contour chairs c.1953. Grant FEATHERSTON (designer); EMERSON BROS PTY LTD, Melbourne (manufacturer).

The National Gallery of Victoria will be hosting an exhibition of original Mid-Century furniture. Featuring works by some of Australia’s top designers of the period (Featherston, Meadmore, Fred Ward) and many more, the exhibition will showcase over 100 iconic pieces from the post-war period.

“Mid-Century Modern is the first major Australian survey to provide an in-depth look at this period, revealing how Australian furniture designers moved away from traditional, conservative pre-war styles and forged a new language of design that was innovative in its use of materials, functional and often imbued with a good dose of style.”

This is a great chance to see iconic pieces by some of Australia’s best post-war furniture designers. Curator Kirsty Grant has searched through Australia’s best public and private collections to source original pieces, many to be displayed for the first time.
There will also be a stunning exhibition catalogue featuring designer biographies, articles and loads of beautiful photographs of mid-century Australian furniture.

Mid-Century Modern: Australian Furniture Design will be on display at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia from 30 May to 19 October 2014. Open 10am–5pm, closed Mondays. Admission fees apply: Adult $10 | Concession $7 | Children (16 and under) Free.

If you would like to know more please check out the NGV media release.

Please note that some of the text and the Grant Featherston furniture photograph (see above) was sourced from the NGV website
.