This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

'Design For Life: Grant And Mary Featherston' Exhibition Opens At Heide

Interior Design

Following on from the unprecedented response to Mary Featherston’s Ivanhoe home last week, today we step inside the exhibition we’ve been waiting for all year, at Heide Museum of Modern Art.

Charting Grant and Mary Featherston’s immense contributions to the Australian cultural landscape from the 1950s onwards, ‘Design For Life: Grant And Mary Featherston’ chronicles just how this iconic design duo captured the imagination of ordinary Australians.

Today, we take you inside this brand new exhibition, and speak with co-curators Denise Whitehouse and Kirsty Grant about the Featherston legacy.

3rd July, 2018

‘Design For Life: Grant And Mary Featherston’ Exhibition at Heide Museum of Modern Art in Melbourne. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Installation shot, featuring Stem Dining settingNumero IV lounge, and Obo Chair. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Grant Featherston and Mary Featherston in the National Gallery of Victoria’s Oriental Gallery 1968. Photo – Courtesy of Heide Museum.

The exhibition runs until October 7th. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Grant Featherston in his studio c.1952. Photo – Courtesy of Heide Museum.

This exhibition is the first time that the design legacy of Grant and Mary Featherson has been explored in depth, from 1947 to the 1970s and beyond. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

The showcase is ‘beautiful, playful and engaging’ according to Featherston guru and exhibition co-curator Denise Whitehouse. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

Lucy Feagins
Tuesday 3rd July 2018

‘Our aim has been to push beyond the chair to show insights into the design process and thinking… in particular Grant’s ‘design for life’ philosophy that prioritises human need and social good over profit-driven consumerism.’ – Denise Whitehouse

What motivated a country boy to become a designer in the late 1930s? This was the simple question that launched Heide Museum of Modern Art’s current exhibition, exploring the careers of Grant Featherston, arguably Australia’s most significant modernist designer, and his creative partnership with Mary Featherston.

From his innovation of new materials and technologies, to the production of trailblazing furniture throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the exhibition highlights the diversity of the Featherston’s practice – spanning interiors, exhibitions, photography, glass, sculpture and even promotional design!

Featherston guru and design historian Denise Whitehouse has been working with Mary Featherston for over a decade on cataloguing the vast Featherston archive. ‘What I discovered was that the Featherston story reached far beyond the Contour Chair, to include glass jewellery, interiors, and photography. I also discovered extensive drawings and writings by Grant that took me into his design processes and thinking, as well as the nature of his design consultancy that included Featherston Interiors,’ tells Denise, who previously worked as a senior lecturer in design history at Swinburne University’s School of Design, and is the convenor of brilliant online depository the Design History Australia Research Network.

Denise has co-curated this showcase with writer Kirsty Grant, who was responsible for the NGV’s ground-breaking Mid-Century Modern exhibition (2014), alongside coordinator Kendrah Morgan.‘Denise has a deep and unrivalled knowledge of the work of Grant and Mary Featherston, so we were a perfect match and worked together really well, learning from each other throughout the process!’ explains Kirsty Grant, who also served as director/CEO of Heide Museum of Modern Art (2015-2016) and senior curator of Australian Art at the National Gallery of Victoria (2007-2014).

While the bulk of the exhibition concentrates on Grant Featherston’s furniture and interiors, this exhibition is the first to explore the Featherston partnership in depth, and to include Mary Featherston’s significant career in design for children and learning. ‘Our aim has been to push beyond the chair to show insights into the design process and thinking… in particular Grant’s ‘design for life’ philosophy that prioritises human need and social good over profit-driven consumerism’ Denise explains. ‘Simple, beautiful, functional and affordable being their aim. And to lift the spirit as Mary would say!’ she adds.

The exhibition runs until early October, and incorporates a vast showcase of rare Featherston gems IRL, including Modular storage units from the 1955 Savoy Hotel Exhibition, a very beautiful Eleanor E 1 chair and the Floating series 102 chair designed for the Brighton Municipal Offices in 1960. ‘We were also able to persuade Mary to design an installation of her archive of natural objects and photography, as well as a wonderful interactive Design Studio where children and parents can experiment with the paper model making process that the Featherstons used when prototyping develop their furniture designs,’ entices Denise.

After years of research and logistics, the curatorial team are thrilled to finally open this show to the public. Their ultimate highlight? Mary Featherston’s enthusiastic seal of approval!

 

Design For Life: Grant And Mary Featherston
June 30th to October 7th
Heide Museum of Modern Art
7 Templestowe Road
Bulleen, Victoria

Similar Stories

Homes

Lyon Housemuseum

A truly extraordinary Melbourne family home, which doubles as a public art gallery.

In Print

'Featherston' · A New Monograph on the Legacy of the Australian Design Icons

Design enthusiast Geoff Isaac has crowd-funded an invaluable book one of the country's most pre-eminent design duos, Grant and Mary Feathers...
Elle Murrell

Homes

A Spectacular Update For Mary Featherston's Iconic 'Featherston House'

Mary Featherston updates her iconic Robin Boyd designed home in Ivanhoe.

This Week

News

New Melbourne Brand Saule Have Created The Dreamiest Robes, Just In Time For Summer

Local creative Sally Tabart has designed the ultimate robe for the home, beach and beyond – and it’s all made here in Melbourne!
Christina Karras

Sustainable Homes

‘Future Ready’: Inside One Of Melbourne’s Newest Sustainable Developments

Mirvac are hoping to encourage sustainable living with their innovative 'future ready' display home in Melbourne's inner west.
Christina Karras

Studio Visit

Designer Jordan Fleming Makes Playful ‘Creatures’ That Double As Lamps

Her handcrafted pieces are like towering, functional sculptures as tall as people – that look like they could come alive at any moment!
Christina Karras

Creative People

Meet The Small Melbourne Brand Reinventing The Humble Gumboot

From a humble farm in South Gippsland, Merry People has grown from a grassroots start-up, to a successful brand sold across the globe!
Christina Karras

Design Eye

Balancing Form + Function In Garden Design, With Peachy Green’s Frances Hale

Landscape designer Frances Hale of Peachy Green shares how outdoor furniture can turn garden spaces into useable living areas, immersed in g...
Christina Karras
  22 hours ago

Interiors

A Clever Reworking Of A 70sqm Cottage In Hawthorn, Melbourne

Despite being limited to this home's tiny frame, interior designer Rosanna Ceravolo has impressively made the most of its diminutive size.

Homes

A Glamorous Update For An Exemplary Ernest Fooks Mid-Century Home

Modernist architect Ernest Fooks designed some of Melbourne’s outstanding mid-century properties, including the 1960s home of Ilana Moses

Interiors

The Central Coast Home Of The Block Alumni Kyal + Kara

The Australian coastal meets Mediterranean family home of former The Block stars Kyal and Kara Demmrich, on the NSW Central Coast.

Interiors

A Coastal Oasis Designed + Built By The Owners

Lauren Patista-Trickey and Jonathon Patista admit being both client and builder/designer was 'a journey', but the result made it all worth i...

News

A Summery New Collection By Australia’s Oldest Textile Mill

Shop Waverly Mills’ beautiful new range of blankets, rugs, and throws, with all fabrics made at their century-old factory!
Christina Karras

Stays

Escape To This Magical Tiny Home In The Gold Coast Hinterlands

Step inside an adorable, off-grid getaway on a farm, with 'no distractions', limited phone reception and a wood-fired hot tub.
Christina Karras

Sustainable Homes

A 1980s Bushland Home Built Entirely From Recycled Materials

A mudbrick home in Healesville, Victoria handmade by the owners using salvaged materials.
Amelia Barnes
  14 hours ago

Architecture

An Architect + Interior Designer’s Coastal Home, Grounded In Nature

This Sydney family home is like a private treehouse by the beach, with views at every turn, and unexpected interiors.
Christina Karras

Architecture

A Renovated Fitzroy Home, Inspired By The Candied Colours Of Italian Dessert

This Edwardian brings a delectable taste of Italy to Melbourne with its stained-glass windows and peachy pink interiors!
Christina Karras

Shopping

Bonnie & Neil's Sunny New Collection Is Inspired By Mediterranean Beach Clubs

Bonnie & Neil are bringing the colours of the Italian coast and Grecian-style prints to our home with their new summer collection!
Christina Karras

Similar Stories

Homes

Lyon Housemuseum

A truly extraordinary Melbourne family home, which doubles as a public art gallery.

In Print

'Featherston' · A New Monograph on the Legacy of the Australian Design Icons

Design enthusiast Geoff Isaac has crowd-funded an invaluable book on designers Grant and Mary Featherston.
Elle Murrell

Homes

A Spectacular Update For Mary Featherston's Iconic 'Featherston House'

Mary Featherston updates her iconic Robin Boyd designed home in Ivanhoe.

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net