By Richard Brewster, on 08-Nov-2016

The largest collection of furniture by Australia’s best known designer Grant Featherston (1922-1995) ever to be auctioned – a significant event for design enthusiasts, collectors and creative people – is part of the Leonard Joel Modern Design sale from 6.30pm Thursday November 10 at 333 Malvern Road, South Yarra. 

Assembled by Melbourne architect Cameron Lyon, the venture began as a project to build an encyclopaedic collection of the designer’s works.

The largest collection of furniture by Australia’s best known designer Grant Featherston (1922-1995), ever to be auctioned – a significant event for design enthusiasts, collectors and creative people – is part of the Leonard Joel Modern Design sale from 6.30pm Thursday November 10 at 333 Malvern Road, South Yarra. Included is an example of the Featherston Obo ball chair, designed in 1974 and inspired by iconic Italian designs from the 1960s, and estimated at $5,000-7,000.

The largest collection of furniture by Australia’s best known designer Grant Featherston (1922-1995), ever to be auctioned – a significant event for design enthusiasts, collectors and creative people – is part of the Leonard Joel Modern Design sale from 6.30pm Thursday November 10 at 333 Malvern Road, South Yarra. Included is an example of the Featherston Obo ball chair, designed in 1974 and inspired by iconic Italian designs from the 1960s, and estimated at $5,000-7,000.

The Lyon family has long been regarded as the “go to” experts for particularly fine example of Featherston’s works and over the years the collection has been edited several times to remove all duplicates.

What remains is a core collection of iconic examples some of which have rarely, if at all, been seen outside institutions that house his works.

Born in Geelong, Featherston – whose chair designs became icons of the Atomic Age – pioneered the new Australian modernist movement.

His chair designs – the most famous of which is the Contour Chair R160 – encapsulate the correlation between architecture and bespoke interiors.

Featherston marketed his modernist chairs through various art galleries and his work has been featured in several museum retrospectives of post-war furniture – including the National Gallery of Victoria 2013 exhibition, Mid-Century Modern Australian Furniture Design.

Now highly collectable, since 2013 his creations have attained high prices at auction.

Leonard Joel, which for the past three years has explored through its modern design auctions the symbiotic relationship between architecture and furniture design as an acknowledged trend for collectors, believes this auction provides an unparalleled opportunity for buyers to view the comprehensive range of  Featherston works.

Several pieces stand out including the Featherston Obo ball chair (Lot 11 ) designed in 1974 and inspired by iconic Italian designs from the 1960s.

The beautifully shaped Wing chair (Lot 20 ) appears on the cover of the “NGV Featherston Chairs” book written by Terence Lane and auction goers should not ignore the extremely rare 51 Easy chair (Lot 40 ).

Other creations of note include the Scape chair (Lot 1 ), the Mark 2 sound chair (Lot 27 ) and two Gyro chairs (Lot 51 ).

Also of interest is the Grant Featherston sideboard (Lot 21 ), created in the 1950s and with a $1200-$1800 catalogue estimate. 

Sale Referenced: Modern Design, Leonard Joel Pty. Ltd., Melbourne, 10/11/2016

About The Author

Richard Brewster has been writing about the antiques and art auction industry for almost 20 years, first in a regular weekly column for Fairfax's The Age newspaper and also in more recent times for his own website Australian Auction Review. With 45 years experience as a journalist and public relations consultant, in 1990 Richard established his own business Brewster & Associates in Melbourne, handling a wide range of clients in the building, financial, antiques and art auction industries.