Grant Featherston (1922-1995) was born in Geelong Victoria becoming a self-taught designer by his early twenties. He took a position designing lighting and glass panels in Melbourne before joining the army and serving in WWII from 1940-1944.
Deeply affected by the war, on his return Featherstone developed his design philosophy ” the quality of the human experience should be the central concern of all design” which became evident in his design from that point forward. Featherstone described his furniture as designed for function and production rather than for glamour or historic appeal sitting well with Bauhaus philosophies and modernist movement.
- 1947 Launch the Relaxation Chair made from woven webbing over a wooden frame the emphasis on comfort and support
- 1947 Featherstones article in Home Beautiful Magazine explains the difference between good and bad design made for function and production rather than glamour or historical appeal. He becomes a cultural spokesman promoting modern design in Australia.
- 1949 Featherstone furnishes the “home of tomorrow” at the Modern Home Exhibition in Melbourne – his work critically acclaimed and popular with the public.
- Purchases Collingwood Factory -to experiment with materials, design, structure, upholstery and manufacturing techniques
- 1950 – Featherstone Aims to create a chair with minimal use of materials that would be cost effective to be mass produced …
The Contour Range
Development of The Contour Chair
Featherstone wanted to make a chair that would be “a ‘negative’ of the human body ” to create comfort and natural support. He famously used a folded tram ticket to develop the method to join two pieces of plywood. He developed this concept further creating a method of molding two pieces of ply together to form a simple compound curved shell, that would form the framework for his iconic Contour Chair range.
The contour chair was a triumph in both its aesthetic appeal, with form fitting, thinly upholstered back and seat, simple support structure and fine tapered legs; but also in its unique approach to manufacture. His efficient manufacturing techniques allowed consumers a choice and flexibility of style. The chair could be customized for different heights as well as fabric colours and different function including:
- Watching TV
- Rocking chairs
- Card Playing
“The Contour Chair became a touchstone of Australia’s growing cultural sophistication”
Time Line Cont…
- 1951 Grant Featherstone successfully patents his joinery and molded plywood technique
- 1952 – manufacture handed over to Emerson Brothers so Featherstone can concentrate of further development.
- 1956 Featherston Contract Interiors showroom opened featuring his chairs and a range of tables, cabinets, buffets and desks
- 1957 Grant became a consultant to Aristoc Industries for 13 years.
Grant Featherstone has received many Good Design Awards and has collections his work at both National and State galleries and museums.
“Mid Century Modern- Australian Furniture Design” Publication National Gallery of Victoria