mid century modern

This weekend was a little different to the usual grand final weekend. Rather than attend the usual BBQ and festivities, we decided it would be the perfect opportunity to visit the NGV to see the mid century modern exhibition that I had been meaning to get to since it opened. It was just as we had hoped – beautiful and quiet in the gallery, we were almost the only ones there and were free to enjoy the exhibition without others in our way.

The exhibition was fantastic, with my only complaint being that it wasn’t big enough (I could look at modernist furniture and interiors all day….) with the colours, textures, fabrics, and materials being a feast for the eyes. I think the hardest part about visiting was trying to obey the ‘no touching’ signs – it was near impossible to keep my hands to myself….. The preloved leather and intricate cabinetry I’m sure were begging me to run my hands over them and open cupboards and drawers to inspect the fine workmanship.

The post war era of modernism created a functional and utilitarian style in a lot of ways, with most consumers budget focused and many materials unattainable. The design of most of the pieces drew on the modernism trends prevalent in Europe and the US at the time, with european craftsmen migrating to Australia and bringing with them their craft.  There was a focus on ergonomics in seating, with Grant Featherston contour chairs being a perfect example. Cabinetry was usually made with solid timbers, and featured mitred finger pulls, intricate carved handle details and features of metals like brass or copper. Fabrics included bold prints and colours included a range of pastels. In fact many of  the features of the mid century modernist style are re appearing today in our interior styling.

We’ve included some images that we captured of some of our favourite pieces from the exhibition. Unfortunately we weren’t so good at remembering to capture the names and details of the designers… Clearly too busy looking at the beautiful furniture instead!

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Douglass Snelling Rocking Chair. Such simple lines and shapes, minimal lines yet comfortable look

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Grant Featherston’s Cord Chair 1950 – timber frame and cotton cord. Love the light and shadow this chair creates

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Grant & Mary Featherston Armchair. This reminded me of chairs that we had in our family home!

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Leather reclining chair with footstool – notice the netting that the cushion sits on. I love this.

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Timber buffet cabinet with roll out drinks cart – perfect for the entertainer!

mid century modern5Corded Recliner – again, beautiful play on light and shadow

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H-flex chair and outdoor table – Welded Steel and leather cushion. More simple forms, shapes and colour. Love the leather cushions!

mid century modern3A recreation of the living room from the ‘best home’ display in Melbourne from the 1950’s. The display home has unfortunately since been demolished…

Hope you enjoyed our wrap up of the exhibition – it is definitely worth a look if you’re interested in the Australian modernist era. The exhibition runs at the National Gallery of Victoria until October 19th. Till next time….. Jen