AT THE GALLERY :: Mid Century Modern furniture….

mid century modern australian furniture exhibition at the ngv

The minute I read about an upcoming exhibition of mid century furniture

at the NGV, it was eagerly bookmarked into the calendar. 

And the exhibition, which opened last weekend,

did not disappoint. 

In fact, it was WAY better than I had imagined...

Not only was there a very extensive collection of beautifully preserved furniture

from the productive post-war period,

when furniture designers experimented with "new" materials

{like plywood and polypropylene},

to create pieces which represented the new ideas of space & lightness,

in a rejection of the heavy style of seating which had gone before,

which, in itself, would make the exhibition worthwhile.

But, no, there was more…much more:

it had been imaginatively and thoughtfully curated,

to include whole room set ups as they would have been in 

a "modern home" of the mid century.

age dream home 1955

This is a photograph of the famous "Age Dream Home"

which was built in 1955 in Melbourne

to encourage young families to rethink their ideas on what the perfect

family home might be.

Designed by Royal Victorian Institute of Architects' Small Homes Service,

in conjunction with the local Age newspaper,

it incorporated full size window walls of slim-framed glazing,

open plan living, modular storage furniture

and the new style of light-legged sculptural furniture.

(Just a little ahead of its time….???)

age dream home 1955 rebuilt in 2014 at ngv

And here is the same living room replica, rebuilt at the NGV exhibition,

which, despite my blurry image from my camera phone (oops),

captures the open, clean freshness of this Brave New World.

Splayed legs…slim and fine…natural timber…black painted steel...

woven textured fabrics in earthy colours and a lack of ornate embellishment:

it was a totally radical style of interiors after the elaborate styles 

which had been prevalent pre-war.


dulux ad 1950 australia

There are fabulous displays of home-maker magazines of the era,

like this adorable version from 1950,

the text of which is so delicious that please zoom in to read it….

Moderns have found that beauty in the home and happiness and health for themselves go hand in hand...
— dulux paint ad, 1950, australian women's weekly
mid century modern inspired magazine display

The magazine display unit was even inspired by the spirit of the furniture designers

of the MCM era, and had his own splayed legs to show off.

Ah….I was in heaven….

So much goodness in brilliant furniture design.

grant featherston contour chair

And perhaps my very favourite of all,

the Contour Chairs, designed by Grant Featherston in 1953,

which are now worth a fortune;

which is no surprise at all, 

because as well as being beautiful to look at,

they are unbelievably comfortable.


So if you are in Melbourne, 

or shall be between now and October 19,

and you are partial to a bit of good design & fascinating history,

I do urge you to pop in and spend a most delectable hour

perusing the dreams and hopes of the post-war furniture designers,

who dared dream of a Brave New World,

all from the comfort of one's new-fangled Television Chair.

Details of the exhibition opening hours, etc, here.