The Featherston Chair

The work of Grant and Mary Featherston to feature in major exhibition

May 8, 2018
  • Article by Natalie Mortimer

Heide Museum of Modern Art is set to present the first major exhibition dedicated to the iconic work of influential Australian designers Gary and Mary Featherston.

Opening 30 June 2018, Design for Life explores the career of Grant Featherston, one of Australia’s most significant modernist designers, and his partnership with Mary Featherston, who is renowned for her design of learning environments for children.

It charts Featherston’s rise to celebrity status in the 1950s and how his work captured the imaginations of ordinary Australians in their quest to be modern. Tracing his explorations of new materials and technologies and production of innovative furniture, including collaborations with Mary during the 1960s and 70s, the exhibition and accompanying publication highlight the holistic nature of the couple’s practice, which included interiors, exhibitions, photography, sculpture, glass objects and promotional design.

Featherston believed that design should benefit everyone and campaigned for professional, aesthetic and environmental standards. He shared this vision of ‘design for life’ and social responsibility with his partner Mary, with who he established Featherston Design in 1965. Beginning with the 1967 Montreal Expo Chair, they focused on culturally and socially significant projects, and experimented with the potential of plastics to produce beautiful, affordable design for all.

Guest curator Denise Whitehouse says: “Featherston’s designs exemplified a new, cosmopolitan mode of living for Australia’s post-war generation, and today his chairs are actively sought after by their grandchildren, showing their enduring influence and appeal.”

The exhibition will showcase more than 120 objects including the iconic R152 Contour Chair, rare designs and previously unseen material from the Featherston Archive.

The Heide Museum of Modern Art is located in Bulleen, VIC. 

Cila chair by Arper

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