Grant and Mary

Grant Featherston (1922-1995) was born in Geelong Victoria.  Self-taught, he designed lighting and glass panels before serving in the army from 1940-1944.  Returning to Melbourne he produced the first of his famous plywood shell Contour chairs in 1951.  Featherston Contract Interiors furniture showroom opened in 1956, and in 1957 he became a consultant to Aristoc Industries for 13 years.

Grant was a foundation member of the Society of Designers for Industry, the forerunner to the Design Institute of Australia.  His designs received many Good Design Awards and he is represented in the collections of National and State galleries and museums.

Mary Featherston (nee Currey) was born in Surrey, England and arrived in Australia in 1953.  She trained in Interior Design at RMIT.  In 1965 she formed a life and professional partnership with Grant Featherston – a partnership that lasted until his death in 1995.  Over a period of thirty years the partnership completed projects across many fields of design including furniture, exhibitions and graphics.  Whilst sharing a strongly held approach to design each partner had a particular focus: furniture projects were principally designed by Grant and Mary led the design for learning projects. Major projects included the fit-out of the National Gallery of Victoria (1966-68), furniture ranges for Aristoc Industries, Uniroyal/Bridgestone and the Children’s Museum of Victoria (1984–92).

Since Grant’s death, Mary has specialised in the development and design of Play/Learning Environments in children’s centres, primary and secondary schools.  The focus of her theory and practice is the relationship between young people, contemporary learning theory and design of supportive physical environments.  For the past twenty years she has studied the educational project of Reggio Emilia, North Italy and curated their travelling exhibition in south east Asia.

Over the past twelve years Mary has collaborated with leading Australian educators, architects, school communities and policy makers to develop highly participatory design processes and innovative interior design.  Her work is internationally recognised and has won several awards.  Major projects include: a modular furniture system for Bialik College Early Learning Centre, Wooranna Park Primary School, Geelong Grammar School (Toorak Campus), Dandenong High School, Princes Hill Primary School and Camberwell High School.  Mary is a member of several ARC funded research teams at Melbourne and Swinburne Universities.

In 1996 Grant and Mary were inaugural inductees into the Design Institute of Australia Hall of Fame.  Mary Featherston is a Fellow of the Design Institute of Australia, a Board Ambassador with the Robin Boyd Foundation, a Senior Fellow at the University of Melbourne and Adjunct Professor of RMIT University.