Among the seven designers inducted into the Design Institute of Australia’s Hall of Fame on June 15, 2018, was a posthumous inductee—furniture, interior, industrial and exhibition designer Lester “Bun” Bunbury. Bun is recognised as a pioneer and leader in establishing Mid-Century Modern design locally, but there is not much information about him. His practice covered not only furniture and exhibitions but products and corporate branding as well. Aside from private practice, he passed on his knowledge by teaching and writing on design. He was passionate about design even in personal life. His contributions to design continue to be appreciated today.

Gordon Arthur Andrews is known as one of Australia’s greatest designers. His first inspiration was his father who was also an inventor and designer. The early 1960s saw a lot of Gordon’s interior design but the year 1963 was perhaps one of the most notable for him. It was in this year that the Advisory Committee chose Andrews’s designs for Australia’s new banknotes. He designed furniture as well. The designer believed that furniture should not only be aesthetically pleasing, but also comfortable and efficient. Gordon’s furniture designs are sought-after and even copied by others. Andrews is seen by some as a “cultural hero” deserving of a place with those represented in the banknotes he had designed.

Marc Newson may well be one of the most influential and groundbreaking designers of the present generation. He has delved into aircraft design, product design, furniture design, and even clothing and jewellery. He is known for collaborating with a number of big corporations including Apple, Montblanc, Nike and Louis Vuitton to name a few. Newson has quite a number of solo exhibitions under his belt including his very first one in 1986 where he unveiled his Lockheed Lounge chair. He is known for smooth geometric lines with an absence of sharp edges. As he is still quite young and active, we can only speculate as to how impactful his legacy would be.

Fred Ward was considered a pioneer by fellow designers. He was creating furniture that took ergonomics into consideration way before it became a fad. He demonstrated the beauty of unstained native Australian timber when others were imitating the look of European wood. His designs have been described as having a simple beauty, pleasing to look at yet streamlined and functional, which seemed to have reflected him. After the war, Fred applied his innovative mind to meeting the needs of the era. Australians could have affordable yet stylish furniture. Two decades after Ward’s death, collectors and antique lovers are rediscovering his work.

Roger McLay was not only a designer; he was also a builder. He used to build the designs that he made himself. At his apprenticeship, McLay learned lithography, a printing method, which was his first foray into design. McLay got interested in industrial design when he was on his way to Europe to join the RAAF. He had a stopover in New York where he saw, in one of the museums, a display of the famous Studebaker motor car by industrial designer Raymond Loewy. Roger McLay may not be as prominent a figure as some of his contemporaries, but he did leave his mark on the Australian design landscape.

The Australian label TH Brown, founded in 1911 by Thomas Howard Brown, became an exemplar of Mid-Century Modern style especially with the work of designer Peter Brown, one of Thomas Howard’s sons. The company’s pieces quickly became popular and in high demand. Despite a change of hands and a few decades away from the spotlight, TH Brown pieces have never gone out of style. The focus of Mid-Century Modern style on clean lines and functionality make it timeless and easy to incorporate in modern settings. The combination of style, quality and functionality make TH Brown an enduring name in classic yet modern, classy luxury furniture in Australia and around the world.

Clement Meadmore was best known for his massive outdoor steel sculptures that can be found all around the world. He was an Australian-American sculptor, designer and author. Meadmore was greatly influenced by his mother who was a great admirer of the arts. He initially majored in aeronautical engineering, but quickly took a formal industrial design course when the opportunity arose. Meadmore promoted himself by designing furniture that met with more than a modicum of success until 1953, the same year his first sculpture was put up for sale. When creating furniture, he treated his work as if it were a problem that needed to be solved.

Born to a bootmaker, Douglas Snelling already had a design business at 16 and was employing other boys. He had a passion for Hollywood films and his dream was fulfilled when he travelled to Los Angeles to work as a freelancer for film studios, doing sketches of stars onset. He became a popular writer and cartoonist in New Zealand. In 1940, Snelling moved to Sydney where he would spend most of his life. He began designing some of Sydney’s shop fit-outs after World War II. He then developed a range of furniture, which was considered the first modernist chairs designed by an Australian. Thus, the “Snelling Line” was born.

Fritz Karl Heinz Lowenstein was born in Upper Silesia, Germany. After making it to England to escape from Nazis, he arrived in Australia aboard the Dunera. He began selling wooden dinnerware despite having very little knowledge of wood. He met Ernest Rodeck, who was making pencil propellers at that time. It was this fateful moment that they struck a partnership and opened their own small workshop. Fred Ward, a designer of Myer Emporium, convinced Lowen to make chairs after noticing his craftsmanship. Fred Lowen then refined his skill. He won several awards like the Dunhill Design Award in 1970. Today, his designs have reclaimed the spotlight alongside those of notable designers like Boyd, Featherston and Parker.

Fred Lowen and Ernest Rodeck never imagined they would become founders of one of the most sought-after brands for modern furniture when they first came to Australia. Being Jewish, they escaped from Nazi Europe and arrived on the prison ship Dunera. The name Fler is a combination of the initials of their names. Fler furniture leaned towards the modern styles and gradually took the limelight from the cumbersome and dark English style furniture. The growing interest in mid-century furniture has allowed Fler furniture back into the spotlight. Up to this day, their pieces are being sought out by antique sellers and restorers.

A partnership between Alf Dagger and Jack Parker is what started Parker Furniture. However, it was Jack’s eldest son, Tony Parker, who turned the company into an icon. While working for his father during the day, Tony took night courses for industrial design. He drew plans for homes and interiors. He honed his skills in managing a team and measuring the success of a design during his stay in London. With Tony at the helm, Parker Furniture incorporated the innovations and iconic designs of the times, but the company still made certain that their products maintained the same quality and attention to detail their brand was known for.

Did you know that the house on Walsh Street was originally designed by Robin Boyd for his own family? This house is considered, both nationally and internationally, as an example of modern Australian architecture. Having designed the house, the influential Victorian architect thought it was only fitting that he creates the furniture as well. Each was masterfully crafted to be beautiful, yet comfortable and built for everyday use. Up until today, each piece of furniture from the Boyd Collection is made from Australian hardwood and Australian wool fabrics. With the help of the original drawings, each item faithfully follows the exact specifications and functional solutions that Boyd imposed on his originals.  

The term “Mid-Century Modern” was already being used as early as the mid-50s, but it wasn’t until author Cara Greenberg mentioned it in her 1983 book, as a descriptor of the design aesthetics at the time, that it gained attention. The term is now used to define a design movement originating from a bygone era, specifically those from the mid-40s to the early 70s. This was due to the renewed interest in furniture designs which began in the early 20th century. Despite the advent of postmodern aesthetics, mid-century modern never truly went into a decline. Nowadays, mid-century pieces are still highly sought-after in auctions and sales. Even authorised reproductions are in high demand.

Huon Pine : The Chests and Davenport

Lagarostrobos franklinii is a species of conifer native to the wet southwestern corner of Tasmania, Australia. It is often known as the Huon pine or Macquarie pine, although it is actually a podocarp, not a true pine. Join Jason and discover three ways this beautiful timber has been used by cabinet makers.

The Tasmanian chair is delicately balanced and finely worked and displays a congruence with Sheraton’s finest aspirations for chair making. All of the decoration owes its origins to Hope – no other chair recorded has the fineness of detail and superior design, form and construction of this chair.

At the end of the Second World War, designers led the trend for futuristic designs in a bid to forget the horrors of the past. Of all the designers that grew to prominence in that era, few can surpass the legacy left by Grant Featherston. In 1947, Featherston launched his Relaxation Series. This series was designed to be aesthetically pleasing and timeless without sacrificing comfort. This cemented Grant Featherston as a household name