Inside the Collection

Furniture and Interiors

Shirley Martin: Australian industrial designer

July 29, 2015

Anne-Marie Van de Ven
Shirley Martin was a female industrial designer based in Sydney who had a long and illustrious career as a post-WWII Australian textile and ceramic designer. She is best known for designing the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games towel, but there is much more to her remarkable design industry success story.

Florence Broadhurst’s Fabulous Foils

July 28, 2015

Anne-Marie Van de Ven
From the mid 19th century, wallpapers used in Australia had predominantly been imported from Britain, but also from France, Canada and America. In 1959, Florence Broadhurst decided to buck the trend.

Obituary: John Smith, August 1948 – 24 February 2015

March 4, 2015

Tilly Boleyn
This post was written by Grace Cochrane AM, independent curator and writer, Sydney; former senior curator of Australian decorative arts and design, MAAS, Powerhouse Museum. It is very sad to hear of the death on 24 February 2015, of John Smith, a key figure in furniture designing and making in Australia for over 40 years.

Home made commode an ‘ensuite’ from 1909

April 7, 2014

Lynne McNairn
A commode is defined as 'a stand or cupboard containing a chamber pot or washbasin'. They date from before the days of sewerage and flushing toilets, when for obvious reasons, the toilet or can was located outside the house, usually at the far end of the backyard.

Shopping around

December 18, 2013

Charles Pickett
A groovy shopping mall is a contradiction in terms for many people. Yet that is what has just opened at the Central Park development on Sydney’s Broadway. As malls go the new one is small but it’s illuminated from above by a Jean Nouvel-designed heliostat and according to the Herald, has the personality of ‘a well-dressed hipster with a short attention span’.

Design for happiness: George Korody furniture designs

December 11, 2013

Charles Pickett
If you’re a fan of mid-century modern furniture, the Powerhouse Museum’s current display is a must-see. 7 Australian Designers profiles a number of Australia’s celebrated modernists and includes iconic furniture by Grant Featherston, Gordon Andrews, Douglas Snelling, Clement Meadmore and Steven Kalmar.

A private tour of the post WWII chair collection with Dr Paul Donnelly

November 25, 2013

Lynne McNairn
The image above shows a few of the chairs in storage at the Powerhouse Discovery Centre: the museum's off site storage and collection care facility at Castle Hill.  The collection stores are generally not open to the public but behind-the-scenes tours and open days are programmed throughout the year. Please be seated was one such tour conducted for Sydney Design 2013.

The Opera House industry

October 18, 2013

Charles Pickett
We’ve just installed a small exhibition to mark the fortieth anniversary of Sydney Opera House on 20 October. The anniversary, by the way, is of the official 1973 opening by the Queen, not the first public performance there on the 28 September 1973, an interesting choice of dates.

The original Sacco beanbag – very cool design

September 23, 2013

Lynne McNairn
Beanbags are something I take for granted.  They can be found  in many homes,  in family rooms, teenage bedrooms  and even as pet beds.  They are available in most ‘bargain’ stores and are a symbol of casual (even grotty) student households.

Gatsby-style

July 31, 2013

Charles Pickett
A couple of month’s back I was contacted by a Daily Telegraph journo, doing a story about Sydney’s ‘Gatsby-style’ mansions. Baz Luhrmann’s take on The Great Gatsby had just hit the screens and the media was searching for evidence that 1920s Sydney had glamour to match that of New York.

Dolls houses, old, new and making do

December 17, 2012

Nicole Balmer
Christmas is that time of year when thoughts of toys are unavoidable. Personally, I love dolls houses, the way the everyday boring world suddenly becomes special when replicated in miniature. Dolls houses provoke inventiveness and problem solving.

How to make a stained glass window, Handel-style

July 18, 2012

Melanie Pitkin
Picture a large stained glass window inside a cathedral. You see a variety of colours - perhaps a contrast of red and blue, long slivers of yellow, or a striking sea of white. A pattern emerges, changing your interpretation of the window.