Adelaide Modern at JamFactory

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Exhibition showing 5 October – 2 December 2018
Gallery One | JamFactory Adelaide

In collaboration with the University of South Australia School of Art, Architecture and Design, JamFactory presents Adelaide Modern, an exhibition of three parts: The Past, The Present and The Future.

Adelaide Modern invites six contemporary designers; Caren Elliss, Takeshi Iue, Peter Walker, studio-gram, Williams Burton Leopardi, and Enoki, and six teams of JamFactory Furniture Studio Associates and University of South Australia design students to respond to six pieces of mid-century furniture produced by six South Australian manufacturers; T.H. Brown & Sons, Leo Conci & Sons, ER Noblett and Sons, FLER Co & Staff, Macrob, and Kerby.

JamFactory in collaboration with the University of South Australia School of Art, Architecture and Design present a furniture design exhibition in three parts that references the past to inform the future.

Part One. The Past: celebrating/recognising South Australia’s mid-twentieth century furniture design and manufacture.
Part Two. The Present: contemporary responses by South Australian designers to six mid-century South Australian furniture pieces.
Part Three. The Future: an exploration through research and prototyping by design students from the University of South Australia and Furniture Studio Associates from JamFactory.

With its early twentieth century origins in the Bauhaus in Germany, De Stijl in The Netherlands and Scandinavian design, modernism took longer to become established in Australia compared with Europe and the USA. By the 1950s - although not always in accordance with the pure modernist principles of functional and social need, carefully selected materials, commonly available machining techniques, and simplicity of appearance and construction - the ‘modern style’ became mainstream and largely accessible to everyday consumers.

In South Australia post-war population increases, resulting largely from migration policies, drove the need for new home construction. New home owners aspired to furnish their houses with modernist pieces suited to their surrounds. Modernist furniture design matched the optimism of the time and drove a buoyant furniture manufacturing industry which included iconic brands T.H. Brown & Sons; Leo Conci & Sons; ER Noblett and Sons; FLER Co & Staff; Macrob; and Kerby.

In 2006, JamFactory presented an exhibition of contemporary South Australian furniture design, Salon South. The accompanying catalogue essay identified that the local furniture industry “…has become very much the domain of the designers and their specialised collaborators,”1 rather than that of manufacturers. In 2018, this is still very much the case, except perhaps for an increasing range of practitioners involved in furniture design and making.

For this exhibition, a diverse group of South Australian designers were invited to respond to the six mid-century pieces including two studio-based practitioners Caren Elliss and Takeshi Iue; academic and studio-based practitioner Peter Walker; architecture practice studio-gram; interior design and architecture practice Williams Burton Leopardi; and multi-disciplinary design practice Enoki. Each of the six contemporary designers have an impressive track record and long-standing interest in furniture design and, most importantly, felt an affinity toward one of the six modern pieces that they chose to respond to in their work.
1. Joanne Cys, ‘Salon South’, catalogue essay for Salon South exhibition catalogue, JamFactory Adelaide, March 26 – May 29, 2006.

If Australian furniture design in the mid-twentieth century was characterised by an optimistic and energetic determination to replace stylistic reproductions of the past and move into a new and unprecedented future, it is of interest today to consider what might characterise South Australian furniture design of the future.

For the third part of the exhibition, the six iconic pieces of mid-century South Australian furniture were once again positioned as creative counterpoint and inspiration, this time for response by a group of fourteen emerging designers comprised of students from the University of South Australia’s School of Art, Architecture and Design and Furniture Studio Associates from JamFactory. The group worked together to research the historical context of the original furniture, and considered their design propositions from the point of view of future social, technological and environmental constructs: major influences over the next 20 to 50 years; the impact of smart and advanced technologies on human environments; the type of materials designers will be able to access; the evolution of production processes; and the future functions of furniture in interior and exterior environments.

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