1950s Australian Vogue magazine: interiors

Category: Advertising, fashion, Homewares, Housing

The Australian edition of Vogue magazine started in 1956 as a quarterly supplement to British Vogue. And it contains some gems! There used to be quite a bit of interior decorating and sewing advertising and articles until Vogue Living came out in the early 80s. Here are some pictures from the first two years, of interiors and homewares. As you can see, it was hotshot designers right from the start. Click to embiggen!

Here’s a modern living-dining area with hanging buffet table, and all the upholstery and curtaining is from Donald Brothers, the furniture by Gordon Andrews, and the painting by Frank Hodgkinson. The photograph itself was taken by Max Dupain. All those names together, that’s impressive!1950s interior

In this room, the desk and goat’s head sculpture are by Gordon Andrews, the chairs by Bill Lucas, the table by Mathieu Mategot, and the painting by Rachel Roxburgh.

1950s modernist interior

A cottage renovation by interior designer Marion Hall Best, ‘one of Australia’s most important and influential 20th century interior designers’. Sofas and coffee table made by E. A. Moulen, iron chair by Bill Lucas, more Donald Brothers upholstery, the mural on the wall by Dora Sweetapple (Hall Best’s sister), and the paintings by Michael Kmit.

1950s modernist interior

Information on the designers here seems to be missing. I love the purple sofa and chairs.

1950s interior

Danish style modernist chair and sideboard/buffet. And that deep deep turquoise carpet. I don’t think it’s Feltex this time.

1950s modernist interior

Kitchen advertisement for Tygan wallpapers. This is one … interesting … kitchen. Tartan wallpaper! Speckled lino floor! Dark green cupboards! Troughton and Young modernist light fittings! Floral curtains! It’s like a little bit of every style popular in the 50s all in the one room.

1950s kitchen

This is an ad for one of the Staffordshire pottery studios. I can’t recall which one. Casual dining for the well-off in 1958. They’ll come in from a game of tennis any second now.

1950s dining table and room

Advertisement for Vynex upholstery. Vinyl-coated chairs aren’t very nice in the Australian summer. Those women are actually stuck to the chairs.

Vynex advertisement, 1958


Australian 1950s interior

Category: Homewares, Housing

This is from an advertising booklet for a paint company. It features what you might call the Australian version of “mid-century modest“, those post-war red brick or weatherboard homes that have an unfortunate tendency these days to be demolished and have an unpleasant McMansion replace them.

Herre’s a sitting room with the ever-popular Venetian blinds, in red; barkcloth curtains; Fler or Snelling style chairs, sofa and desk; Feltex carpet, and what might be an Albert Namatjira watercolour print on the wall.

Sitting room

A bedroom, with the very popular skirted bedspread; teak bed head; more of that deep green Feltex; and another Fler or Snelling type chair.

1950s bedroom

What’s that on the floor? Why, it’s more dark green Feltex! That stuff was everywhere. Some more of those chairs too, and a matching coffee table on what looks like a chenille rug. Seems it was fairly popular to have a mix of modern and antique style furniture and homewares, there are lots of pictures in my vintage home magazines of rooms like this. Is that a Renoir print hanging on the wall?

1950s living room

Tiki time! Cane furniture with a bamboo or palm frond print upholstery,  yellow Venetians and ceiling with dark turquoise walls. I like the rug, and I love the ‘crazy paving’ fireplace.

Sitting room with cane furniture

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Recent op shop finds

Category: Homewares, Op shop finds

I’ve bought heaps of glassware, which I’ll photograph later, but these are some of my favourites from the past few weeks:

Mid-century modern Danish style drawer unit

Found at Salvos in Fyshwick, a Danish-style mid-century modern chest of drawers. It’s got solid teak trim and handles, and an unusual plywood veneer. One of the drawers is stamped inside with “Gainsborough” and the company address in Melbourne. Needs a bit of cleaning up, but it’s still very nice! I put some felt under the TV so it won’t cause any damage. The little vase on the left was a Trash and Treasure find – the lady I bought it from reckoned it was an unmarked Diana factory second (there’s a little bit of the glaze missing). Either way, it’s pretty.

I also got these excellent dishes:

Australian ceramic mid-century modern serving dishes

One was from Vinnies in Dickson, and the other from Vinnies in Queanbeyan. Nice weighty ceramic, signed “CT” on the bottom. I’m not really a pottery/ceramics person, so I have no idea who CT could be. If anyone knows, please tell! There are pictures of dishes like these in some of my mid-50s home decorating magazines. They’re in great condition, they look like they’ve sat in somebody’s display unit for the past 40,50, 60? years.

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1955 Twin Set – free knitting pattern

Category: fashion

Here’s a pretty twin set from My Home magazine’s 1955 Christmas edition. My Home was a British publication “for women who love their home”. I’ve compiled the pattern into a PDF to download.

1955 Twin set vintage knitting pattern - PDF 3.5MBKnitting pattern – 3.5mb PDF


Harp design: gilded ornament to modern

Category: Art, Harps

Harps aren’t furniture, they’re there to be played. But like pipe organs and harpsichords, there is a tradition of harps being decorative as well as incredible instruments. Marie Antoinette made the harp popular as a pastime for ladies, and this is what they were like back then:

Three 1700s harps

Those harps are only about 155cm/5′ tall and quite light. Over the years, harps got bigger and more complicated to play, it was more difficult for a young lady to become accomplished, and so the piano soon took pride of place in the parlour. Harps remained quite ornamented, but change came. First, there was the art deco styling of the Lyon and  Healy Salzedo model, introduced in 1928, designed by Witold Gordon in collaboration with the great harpist Carlos Salzedo.

Lyon & Healy Salzedo harp

And then, in 1957, this harp by German harpmakers Thurau, won a prize at the Trienniale di Milano. It was designed by Rainer Schütze, who was schooled in the Bauhaus way:

Bauhaus styled modern harp by Thurau

And Lyon & Healy introduced this harp, the Style 30, in 1958:

Lyon & Healy Style 30 harp

And not modernist, but you could say it’s either an interesting break with tradition, or it’s really going back to the idea of the harp as decorative sculpture; the Scolpita by Italian harpmakers Salvi:

Salvi Scolpita harp

Of course this post is just about how the harps look. If you want to know more about pedal harp construction and how they work, there’s a good introductory article at Harp Spectrum. Folk/Celtic/lever harps have their own story which I may do a post about later! And if you’re looking for harps and harp accessories, music, lessons, etc in Canberra? Head to the Harp Centre.

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