WE ASKED CURATORS OF LEADING TWENTIETH-CENTURY AND CONTEMPORARY DESIGN COLLECTIONS TO DISCUSS ONE OBJECT THAT THEY FEEL IS PARTICULARLY NOTEWORTHY. HERE IS A GALLERY OF THEIR CHOICES.
DESIGNED BY CHRISTOPHER CONNELL and Brian Sayer, the G’day chair was launched in 1988 to coincide with Australia’s Bicentenary. Made in limited production from recycled aluminum (including beer cans), the chair is composed of the letters G, D, A, and Y, spelling out the endearing Australian term for “good day.
The G’day chair pushes beyond the traditional modernist maxim of “form follows function,” representing an important moment for the designers as they moved beyond the functional requirements of the object to elevate their design to a form of expression and communication. In this way they marked the two hundredth anniversary of the arrival of Captain Arthur Phillip and the First Fleet—which included six convict ships—into Sydney Harbour in a design that literally says “hello” in Australian slang and further exclaims, “I’m here—take a seat!”
By considering the material, visual content, and context for the design we can build an appreciation for the ways in which the designers strived to embed values within their work. These values play out through a cultural exploration that directly engages with the social, historical, and material aspects of contemporary Australian culture. Considering the idea of values being embedded in everyday objects can provide a greater appreciation of them beyond their mere appearance, and encourage us to examine design with the same attention that we bring to art.
Hugh Williamson Curator of
Contemporary Design and Architecture
National Gallery of Victoria, Australia