Saturday, 12 July 2014

Hot Modernism

Queensland's modernist architecture from 1945 to 1975  is put under the spotlight at a major exhibit now showing at the State Library of Queensland.

I was very excited to gain a sneak preview of the Hot Modernism exhibition at the official launch earlier this week thanks to dansk vintage who is principal sponsor of the exhibition. (They were away overseas on a buying trip and kindly gave me some of their tickets. Yay!)

Centenary Pool Spring Hill designed by James Birrell
It is heartening to see there is a growing appreciation of mid-century design and from a preservation point of view this exhibition will add to that important conversation. You can never fully grow if you don't learn from the past. It is undeniable the period of development between 1945 to 1975 was the start of a modern Queensland. And it is wonderful to see the architects, designers and builders who dreamt big (and a little bit left of field) after the immediate post-war period acknowledged.

So, from a mid-century modernism enthusiast's point of view, this is a must-see exhibition. There are photographs, plans, models and videos a-plenty in which to immerse yourself. I'll be going back to have a good old leisurely look when the children are back at school next week.

Inside the re-creation of Jacobi House with vintage Danish furnishings from dansk vintage

One of the many highlights was the full-scale replica of the iconic Jacobi House (1957) designed by Hayes and Scott. It is a fabulous re-creation and gives a taste of how 'less is more' when it comes to building design.

Madly modern Susan posing in the Torbreck room.
Ironically, Susan looks like a 1950s housewife but has never  used a washig machine in her life according to her domesticated partner Chris.
There is also a room dedicated to the construction and history of Torbreck Home Units (which I wrote about in a previous blog post).

Speare House profile in the Hot Modernism exhibition

And of particular interest to me were the drawings and photographs of the demolished Speare House (1959) which was designed by the same architect who drew our modernist house. Although it precedes our home by four years, some of the features and ideas about climatic design can be seen in our humble abode.

Our friends, the publishers of Australian Modern (Chris and madly modern Susan), were also interviewed as part of the exhibition. A short three minute video was made about their mid-century home and how they came to buy it and then become friends with the architect, Barry Walduck.

Their modernist home will play host to the Man about the House Tim Ross Comedy show which is part of the Hot Modernism special events. The show cost is $58 and can be booked here.

Hot Modernism is a free exhibit at the State Library and is open until 12 October.


  1. My brother and his wife went to the opening as well. He couldn't phone me fast enough to say how great it is. I'm also happy to see this era in architecture and design being recognised for its importance and value. I laughed at Chris' comment about Susan ... Chris has always been impeccably groomed, and I've always laid credit for that squarely on Susan's shoulders.

    1. You of all people must go! Thank goodness the State Library has taken the initiative to put on this exhibition - so many great buildings and architects showcased. And yes, Chris is Mr Washing Machine in their mid-mod resort...That photo is a classic. Susan wanted me to instagram it but I thought it worthy for the blog! xx

  2. It looks like a great exhibition! Hope that you enjoy your second visit. xx

  3. Looks loke such a great show! Great that you got tickets to see it.

  4. Love that clip and can't wait to se the exhibition. I have a date pencilled into to my vinyl pocket book already!
    That is such a great image of Centenary Pool. My boys think it is so cool to swim there. Years ago when I worked down the road at the RBH, we had some long lunches at the curry house upstairs followed thy a quick dip to cool down (sober up) before going back to work... Ah those were the days!


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