Beaumaris Books

Design for Life Grant & Mary Featherston

Denise Whitehouse

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This book is being published to complement the Heide Museum of Modern Art exhibition Design for Life: Grant and Mary Featherston. It comprises eight chapters and charts Grant Featherston's rise to prominence as Australia's most talked about rebel designer. The introduction begins with a discussion of his formative years and postwar explorations of the Bauhaus philosophy of design for life that shaped his practice and profound commitment to human need based design. It then examines the invention and significance of the Featherston chair within the context of Featherston's relationship with architect Robin Boyd and the modernist push in the 1950s to develop a sophisticated and independent Australian design culture. The narrative then introduces Featherston's largely unknown interior design practice, Featherston Contract Interiors and delves into his collaboration with Melbourne's architects and the metal furniture manufacturer Aristoc Industries in spearheading the field of high-end, mass produced general purpose furniture. The exploration of form, space, materials and functionalism that informed Featherston's career also lay at the heart of his partnership with Mary Featherston, the nature of which is the subject of the last two chapters. Beginning in 1965 with the Montreal Expo Chair, the fit out and furnishing of Sir Roy Grounds' National Gallery of Victoria, and the iconic Boyd designed Featherston House, Ivanhoe, the story moves into the Featherstons' exploration of plastics moulding technology and the development of some of Australia's most technically and aesthetically advanced furniture. Disillusioned with profit driven commercial design they established Featherston Research and Development, generating social needs projects while searching for innovative manufacturers to support the research and development necessary for social innovation. While sharing Grant's values, Mary, for whom the 1970s women's and children movements were formative, pioneered the design of children's day care and learning environments. A discussion of her development of Victoria's first Children's Museum and shaping of a school interior design pattern language that has been highly influential nationally and in the UK concludes the book.

Large Softcover Format