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

Exhibition

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

View Comments

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

Interiors

Two Sleek + Stylish Side-By-Side Homes On One Block!

This dual-occupancy build by Boutique Developments proves developments don't have to be generic, with each unit offering up its own contrast...
Christina Karras

Interiors

A Mediterranean-Inspired Holiday Home Right On The Water’s Edge

CLO Studios styled the interior of this new Noosa home (dubbed Sky Garden) with earthy tones and pieces by local artists.

Creative People

Landscape Studio Ayus Botanical On Creating Calming + Enduring Gardens

The husband-and-wife team of Ayus Botanical share the thoughtful processes behind their lush residential and commercial projects!
Christina Karras

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life Of Costume + Production Designer, Catherine Martin

The four-time Oscar winning designer shares insights from her career working alongside husband Baz Luhrmann, and how she helped bring 'Elvis...
Christina Karras

Creative People

Artist and Yindjibarndi Elder Wendy Hubert On Mapping Country + Culture

Our new columnist Jirra Lulla Harvey talks to respected Yindjibarndi Elder, artist, Cultural Custodian and linguist, Wendy Hubert about Coun...
Jirra Lulla Harvey

Homes

A Creative Couple’s Loft-Style Pad, With Brooklyn Vibes!

Designer Phi Do and his husband Yaniv Brayer give us a tour through their warehouse-style Richmond townhouse.

Shopping

8 Local Creatives Making Furniture That Doubles As Art

Meet our favourite designers and makers pushing the limits of traditional furniture with their sculptural and striking pieces!
Christina Karras
  6 hours ago

Stays

A Dreamy Getaway With Panoramic Views In The Heart Of Hobart

Edwardian architecture meets a Japanese-style extension at this peaceful Tasmanian retreat, complete with spectacular views of the city, riv...
Christina Karras

Homes

A Stylist + Podcaster’s Layered, Textured Seaside Home

Kerrie-Ann Jones’ renovated retro pad in Sydney’s southern beaches is a sun-drenched dream home!
Lucy Feagins
  14 hours ago

Architecture

A Compact + Colourful Extension Of A Fun Family Home

Foomann Architects replaced this Melbourne home's dated extension with a personality-filled renovation, behind a vibrant pink door!
Christina Karras

Studio Visit

Kelly Thompson’s Playful Preston Showroom Clashes Colour In The Best Way

The clever creative behind online store, Makers’ Mrkt, gives us an inside look at her fun Preston stockroom-turned-store!
Christina Karras

News

Bruce Munro's Spectacular Light Installations Are Coming To Heide

See a showcase of light and colour when the acclaimed English-Australian artist takes over Heide Museum of Modern Art and its gardens!
Sponsored

Studio Visit

Kuku Yalanji Artist Tiarna Herczeg Creates Colourful Maps Of Country

The emerging artist shares how they found their creative voice and intuitive painting style, as their latest solo show opens in Sydney.
Christina Karras

Architecture

The Treasure-Filled Sydney Home Of Two Global Art Collectors

House Gezellig by Studio Prineas reflects their clients’ love for modernist design principles and collection of fine art.

Interiors

A Green New Addition For An Ageing Edwardian Home

Brave New Eco revitalises an existing Brunswick home for multiple generations with a new extension, natural material palette and clever use

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