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Indesign Luminary Tribute: Charles Furey

Pioneer of Australian industrial design Charles Furey has passed away at the age of 92.

Indesign Luminary Tribute: Charles Furey

Designer and champion of industrial design in Australia, Charles Furey, passed away in his sleep on Saturday 30 May 2009. So many of Charles Furey’s designs have become part of our everyday lives and his passion for, and commitment to, the profession ensure he will be greatly missed.

This article is an excerpt that was originally published in Issue #28 of Indesign magazine and honours Charles’ achievements and role in shaping Australian design. Indesign expresses our deepest sympathies for Charles’ family and friends.

A champion of industrial design in Australia before it even existed here, Charles Furey assisted in the birth of the profession. A staunch advocate of ergonomics and of products designed to last, his work and the contribution he has made, have become part of our lives.

While product design as a practice developed out of the industrial revolution, it was the 20th Century growing focus on design that brought dramatic changes to life and style in the Western World. In the early years, however, Australia remained a distant and artless outpost.

Prior to the expansion of industry during and after WWII, there had been limited mass manufacturing in Australia, and designers were virtually unknown.

Products that were made here were usually copied from designs either sourced directly from overseas or, perhaps, admired in glossy magazines or catalogues. Occasionally, items were manufactured under license.

While design as a practice was thriving in Europe and the ‘streamlined’ style was surging through America, the notion of the industrial designer in Australia was yet to be realised.

But as the manufacturing industries developed so did design. It could be said that industrial design officially began in Australia in 1947 in Melbourne, when a handful of dedicated practitioners keen to promote the awareness and appreciation of good design formed The Society of Designers for Industry (SDI).

Among them was Charles Furey. As another of these design pioneers Ron Rosenfeldt wrote, the post-War period was a time full of optimism and confidence.

“We all believed that good design, honest design, was part of the way to a better world.” And it was this fundamental belief in the value of design that continued to motivate Furey throughout his career to “make our surroundings as pleasant as possible for the enjoyment of life.”

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