A VISUAL LIFE | Creative Direction + Design

Tag: mid century modern

HOUSE CALL // harry seidler, vaucluse waters

Soaring above the rugged coastline on the Diamond Bay cliff walk and balancing on the edge, is the 1960’s apartment block Vaucluse Waters. True to the modernist era, it is constructed predominantly of concrete and glass. It stands out in the area due to its vast height compared to the surrounding buildings as well as the prime position on the coast. Designed by renowned architect Harry Seidler, it is possibly one of his less famous projects in comparison to many other landmarks around Sydney.

In typical Seidler fashion, the style is very linear and angular with windows taking advantage of the vista. In old photos it seems there may have been balconies when it was first built, which have been closed in at some stage. The sweeping ocean views are breathtaking but have also subjected the apartments to the harsh weather elements. Unfortunately it is damaged and in need of major repairs, but hopefully the upgrades will be undertaken with respect to the original design. Many of these gems are constantly at risk, either lost completely in demolition or being redeveloped so much that the true architectural character disappears.

HOUSE CALL // the ideal home

Douglas Snelling chair and foot stool, 1957 (timber and synthetic webbing); Douglas Snelling cabinet, 1949 (timber); George Nelson ‘Bubble’ lamp, 1947-70s (plastic and metal)

Robin Boyd ‘House of Tomorrow’, designed 1949 (model made 1992)

Wolfgang Sievers ‘House of Tomorrow’ photographs, 1949 (printed 1990)

Grant and Mary Featherston ‘Numero IV’ lounge suite, 1973-74 (polyurethane foam, ABS plastic and wool); Grant and Mary Featherston dining setting, 1969 (stem, plastic, timber, metal, rubber and fabric); Korban/Flaubert ‘Swaylamp’ floor lamp, 2002 (background); Marc Newson ‘Helice’ floor lamp, 1993 (foreground)

Catherine O’Donnell ‘Sirius Topography (series)’, 2018 (3M vinyl tape 471)

Mid century modern style made a comeback years ago and it’s not going away any time soon and for good reason – great design. I recently saw The Ideal Home exhibition and although it’s very small, it’s worth it if you’re in the area (there’s a larger second site at MAAS Powerhouse in Ultimo). The exhibit shows a slice of history with examples of what a 20th century Australian home looked like with furnishings and household items from the MAAS Collection.

In this era Australia had one of the highest rates of home ownership in the world and suburbs grew quickly. Modern technology and mass manufacturing made goods readily available to consumers and time saving products allowed more leisure. While modernist designers created trends in architecture, interiors and design internationally, Australian pioneers made their own mark. Architect Robin Boyd’s creations are featured as well as iconic furniture designers Grant and Mary Featherston.

Another interesting and unexpected element was the installation of drawings of the Sirius brutalist apartment block. I’ve written before about the threat of redevelopment that the iconic building is facing in my Save Our Sirius post. Catherine O’Donnell has covered the walls with tape outlines of the Sirius footprint, floor plans and elevations to showcase this treasure in a fresh way.

Australians embraced mid century modern as it represented comfort, style and function. 100 years later it is a lifestyle that we still aspire to today.

HOUSE CALL // warehouse wishlist

As you can probably tell I have a love for architecture. Who knows, if I hadn’t become a graphic designer I might have been an architect? I’ve always loved Mid Century Modern design and I still aspire to owning one of those iconic houses one day. Art Deco is another era I adore and my apartment building is testament to this. Looking through all the interior references I’ve collected I’ve worked out that I’m also partial to the bohemian beach shack style.

Polar opposite to all these styles is my love for that urban industrial look. I’d be so happy to take on any of these warehouses to renovate. These factories in the inner west have elements of the period features that I’ve mentioned. My wishlist would be exposed brick, timber rafters and concrete floors. An open plan space with a designated studio would be ideal. The plan was to move beach-side but I could be tempted…

HOUSE CALL // ngv australia, melbourne

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Normally I would feature an interiors post on a personal home tour, but this exhibition was so well executed that it felt like I was transported into Australian homes of the past. Mid-Century Modern: Australian Furniture Design heralds the innovative designers from the 1940s to the 1970s and their lasting legacy. Featuring iconic pieces such as the Contour range by Grant Featherston and full-scale vignettes such as the living room based on the 1955 Age Dream Home.

I personally love this era of design as it was so revolutionary at the time but it has transcended to still feel contemporary today. Many current designers still look to this period for creative inspiration as well as the ground-breaking techniques in production. Travel back to the days before the internet… but then you wouldn’t be reading this!

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