Congratulations Geoff Isaac on your carefully researched and thoughtful publication. I particularly welcome the extensive coverage of of Grant (Featherston)’s lesser known but very significant and prolific work with Aristoc Industries. Mary Featherston
Read an interview with the author in Secret Design Studio
The curves of Grant Featherston’s Contour chairs have seduced admirers for over sixty years and yet remarkably little has been published on this Australian mid-century designer. A fact that is even more remarkable when you consider that some Featherston designs sell for $10,000 or more at auction.
This project seeks to address this oversight. The result of over four years of research, covering the period from 1947 to the mid-70s, this book will feature a biography of the designer, drawn from archival research and interviews with his peers.
Grant Featherston designed literally hundreds of chair. Some designs were so commercially successful that it is no exaggeration to claim that nearly every Australian has sat on a Featherston chair. Proof that he is one of Australia’s most important and successful industrial designers.
Working in wood, steel, cane, rubber and plastics, Featherston embraced new materials and technologies, working with Australia’s leading manufacturers to bring his creations to life.
Grant Featherston, together with his wife, Mary, and manufacturer Aristoc, developed the incredibly popular Talking Chair for the Australian Pavilion at the 1967 World Expo in Montreal. The couple became fascinated by the potential offered by plastics and developed several award winning designs exploring this game changing material during the next decade.
The Featherstons worked closely with the leading manufacturers of the day to produce both cutting edge and popular designs for the residential and commercial markets. Access to the Aristoc archives has allowed the thirteen year partnership, with this market leading Melbourne based manufacturer, to be explored in depth and illustrated with many previously unpublished photographs.
The astonishingly diverse output from this Australian design partnership has gone largely uncelebrated. Critics have accused Featherston of being derivative. However, this fails to recognise his genius in creating mid-century designs and developing production methods that allowed the tiny and remote Australian market to experience the Modern look.
While overseas designers were investing tens of thousands of dollars in machines to produce their modern designs, Featherston had to adapt to local market conditions. Australia posed unique challenges – markets were tiny and distances great. The ingenuity required to succeed and consistently deliver successful modern designs is the real, previously untold, story revealed in this book.
The range and ingenuity of the work delivered by the Featherstons defines this mid-century design team as a significant contributor to Australian style and the only antipodean answer to the Eames team.
The text is beautifully illustrated with 250 photographs, including original photography and previously unpublished material from the Aristoc archive.
Featherston is a thorough exploration of the career of this remarkably gifted (and self-trained) designer. Geoff Isaac examines his multi-faceted career in detail to reveal Grant Featherston possessed talents in every direction including marketing, graphics, photography and styling. Isaac’s contextual comparisons with other designers of his era in Australia, the USA and the UK are illuminating. A very rewarding read. Michael Bogle, PhD Design Historian
If you are interested in obtaining a copy of Featherston .
Or if you want to find out more about the project please send your details using the form on the Contact page.