Grant Stanley Featherston (October 17, 1922-October 9, 1995) was an Australian furniture designer whose chairs in the 1950s became the symbols of the Atomic Era.
He was born in Geelong, Victoria. In 1965, he married Mary Bronwyn Currey, an English-born interior designer, and the pair worked closely as interior designers for many decades. Between 1938-39, Featherston designed decorative-glass panels for Oliver-Davey Glass, Melbourne, and 1939-40 lighting for Newton and Gray, Melbourne. He designed and made jewellery and invented manufacturing equipment 1946 -52; 1947-50, designed and made webbing and the fabric-upholstered Relaxation Chair. He created street decorations for the 1955 City of Melbourne Olympic Civic Committee. In 1956, moved to 7 Davidsons Place, Melbourne and,· 1957, to 131 Latrobe Street, Melbourne. He was a consultant designer to numerous architects.
He is best known for his furniture designs, particularly the ‘Contour Chair R160’ chair. It caught the eye of the Paris magazine “Esthétique Industrielle” which published a description of its strangely formed plywood base. From France it went to the United States where it was picked up by one of the leading design magazines. In 1952 it was chosen for its simple lines in one piece laminated construction. The low set elbows give comfort and freedom for the elbows.
Modern Home Exhibition
The Modern Home Exhibition, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, opened in October 1949 in
Melbourne’s Exhibition Buildings amid a blaze of publicity. The prototype furniture, which Featherston created for the House of Tomorrow exhibition, included coffee tables, a prototype television cabinet, a lightweight sofa, and an exquisite, slim-line chaise longue that was prominently displayed on the patio.
The Relaxation chairs, made of simple webbing and plywood, were perfectly matched to the house, complementing the structure’s honesty, austerity materials, and rigors interplay of design and manufacturing methods. The furniture injected life into the House of Tomorrow’s living rooms, bringing colour and graceful form, while demonstrating how well designed furniture might offer spaciousness and a unifying, functional, and aesthetic logic to the small home (Whitehouse, 2017).
He sold his modernist chairs to art galleries, including the Peter Bray Gallery in Melbourne, and they are now highly collectable at the same time as fine art, and in 2013 he started to hit high auction rates. He is considered Australia’s best-known furniture designer.
Australia’s best known furniture designer.
Featherston expounded the virtues of good design; though he designed hundreds of chairs, did not consider himself to be essentially a designer of seat furniture. He worked as a graphic and interior designer; designed textiles, ceramics, jewellery, toys, and trophies. His works have been seen in numerous post-war museum retrospectives, including the 2013 exhibition of the Victoria National Gallery, Mid-Century Modern Australian Furniture Design.
Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design Encyclopedia. Laurence King.
Chair design goes round the world (1952, May 27). The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954), p. 7. Retrieved December 20, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article205411024
Good design (1952, December 14). The Sunday Herald (Sydney, NSW : 1949 – 1953), p. 21. Retrieved December 20, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article18515297
Whitehouse, D. (2017). The Modern Home Exhibition: The Society of Designers for Industry, Richard Haughton James, Grant Featherston and the promotion of Good (professional) Design . Design History Australia Research Network. http://dharn.org.au/.
Wikipedia contributors. (2020, June 20). Grant Featherston. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 10:01, December 19, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Grant_Featherston&oldid=963478780
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