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92/1971 Chair, 'Mitzi', steel / wood / foam / vinyl, designed by Grant Featherston and made by Aristoc Industries Pty Ltd, Glen Waverley, Victoria, Australia, 1957. Click to enlarge.

‘Mitzi’ chair by Grant Featherston

Designed
One of the new wave of Australian designers to emerge in the immediate post-war years, Grant Featherston (1922-1995) designed his first chair in 1947. In the early 1950s he developed the now famous 'Contour' range of chairs. First launched in 1951, the 'Contour' was an immediate success, its innovative plywood shell formed using a process that Featherston developed himself in the absence of suitable plywood bending technology locally. In 1957 Featherston was appointed consultant designer to Aristoc Industries, a Melbourne manufacturer of metal furniture. This highly fruitful collaboration resulted in the production of a variety of chairs including the 'Mitzi' (1957), 'Scape' (1960), the 'Expo 67 talking chair' and the 'Stem' chair of 1969.

In 1966 Featherston formed a partnership with his wife Mary Featherston (nee Curry, born England 1943), an interior designer who had studied at RMIT. Their 'Expo 67' chair, with its polystyrene shell, was only the beginning of a run of chairs that, in the spirit of the times, explored the limitless possibilities of plastics in the creation of innovative seating forms:

' ... the integrated one-piece plastic chair [represented] ... the pinnacle of the furniture designer's aspirations. Plastics and moulding technology expresses the synergetic challenge most eloquently. No other material so inherently speaks of body and process, offering a 'negative' of the human body.'
(Grant Featherston, 'Design reflections', In Future, no 4, Feb-March 1987. Quoted in Terence Lane, Featherston Chairs, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 1988, p12)

The rotation-moulded, polyethylene 'Stem' chair took 18 months to reach production stage and was one of the most technologically sophisticated chairs ever made in Australia. It, and other innovative designs by the Featherstons helped expand the technological capabilities of local furniture manufacturers at a time when there viability was constantly under threat from foreign imports.

The Featherstons' efforts to keep the local industry competitive while supplying the market with chairs that were technologically and stylistically equal to overseas examples resulted in an important body of work that has significantly enriched Australia's design history.

Summary

Object No.

92/1971

Object Statement

Chair, 'Mitzi', steel / wood / foam / vinyl, designed by Grant Featherston and made by Aristoc Industries Pty Ltd, Glen Waverley, Victoria, Australia, 1957

Physical Description

Chair of black painted tubular steel frame with tapering legs, seat and back upholstered in green vinyl textured upholsterery.

Marks

Metal label on underside of seat: Aristoc / Industries/ Glen Waverley, Victoria MITZI

Dimensions

Height

810 mm

Width

420 mm

Depth

500 mm

Production

Notes

Grant Featherston (1922-1995) and made by Aristoc Industries Pty Ltd. Listed on the Australian Design Index in 1964.

Grant Featherston was appointed Consultant Designer to metal furniture manufacturer, Aristoc Industries in 1957. His role included design policy and supervision of the Design Development Department. He remained associated with the company until 1970. For Grant Featherston the consultancy was a turning point as it gave him access to sophisticated metal technology.

One of his first projects at Aristoc was to work on the design of the tapered tubular metal Mitzi chair, which had been on the drawing board for some time. He made revisions to the original designs, adjusting angles and forms and 'floating' the seat of the stretcher. The Mitzi chair was designed as a stacking chair for halls and similar venues but it was also very successful in the domestic market. Over 160,000 Mitzis were produced from 1957 to 1967.

History

Notes

The chair formed part of the original fitout of the City of Hamilton Art Gallery, Hamilton, Victoria which was established in 1961.

Source

Credit Line

Purchased 1992

Acquisition Date

8 December 1992

Cite this Object

Harvard

'Mitzi' chair by Grant Featherston 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 26 September 2020, <https://ma.as/126175>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/126175 |title='Mitzi' chair by Grant Featherston |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=26 September 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

Incomplete

This object record is currently incomplete. Other information may exist in a non-digital form. The Museum continues to update and add new research to collection records.