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California Design 1930–1965: Living in a Modern Way

This summer sees a comprehensive collection of iconic and revolutionary Californian design arrive in Brisbane at the Queensland Art Gallery. By Nicholas Sherwood.

California Design 1930–1965: Living in a Modern Way


October 15th, 2013

The first Barbie doll, classic Levi Strauss 501 jeans, prototype furniture by Charles and Ray Eames, and early designs of ‘leisure wear’ are all heading to the Queensland capital for Queensland Art Gallery’s (QAG) exhibition, ‘California Design 1930–1965: Living in a Modern Way’.


The highly innovative gallery is showcasing over 250 examples of Californian design, spanning the period of 1930 to 1965. Pieces curated for the exhibition display the vast and lasting effects that Californian design has had on contemporary culture.


The style of design reflects the laid-back, relaxed ethos that California embodies – somewhat similar to a stereotypical Australian lifestyle. Further highlights from the exhibition include Van Keppel-Green’s all-weather loungers, graphic designs by Saul Bass and Alvin Lustig, architectural drawings, plans and photographs, and the futuristic looking Airstream Clipper (1936).


The exhibition is on tour from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), and is curated by Wendy Kaplan. Kaplan believes ‘so many of the exhibition’s themes will resonate with an Australian audience. Both post-war California and Australia had burgeoning, newly prosperous populations, a benign climate that permitted life to be led informally and largely out of doors, and embraced design innovation and new materials.’

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‘California Design 1930–1965: Living in a Modern Way’ runs at the Queensland Art Gallery from November 2nd 2013 – February 9th 2014.


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