- Media release
Celebrating Marion Hall Best
Sydney Living Museums announces a colourful, dynamic new exhibition celebrating the career of one of the first independent and most influential Australian interior designers - Marion Hall Best: Interiors opening on 5 August at the Museum of Sydney. This exhibition is part of Sydney Living Museums’ larger A Modernist Season throughout July to November.
Described as electrifying, vital and avant-garde, Best’s interior decorating schemes were unashamedly modern at a time when other interior designers preferred a subdued palette and period furniture. She claimed that “gentle, soft colours … are not restful, but dreary, sapping the energy and the mind”; by contrast, “bright clear colours challenge the mind.” Her interior decorating style vibrated with colour through her signature glazed painted finishes on walls and ceilings.
Best had a love of colour and an uncanny ability to use it to transform a room,” says exhibition curator Michael Lech. “Sydney Living Museums holds the largest collection of textiles, furnishings, ephemera and imagery relating to Best’s work, which will be on display in this exhibition showcasing her career.
Although she designed mostly private commissions, Best’s work was promoted more broadly through photographs and articles in popular magazines and newspapers, exhibition display rooms and in her two shops in Queen Street, Woollahra (1939–74) and Rowe Street, Sydney (1949–61).
Best was inspired by the modernist movement and colour theory of artists of the interwar years. She is attributed with introducing international modernism to the Australian market through importing furniture and furnishings from all over the world including: textiles by Marimekko, Jim Thompson Thai silks and Indian cottons, French wallpapers from Nobilis and Follot, furniture by Knoll, Herman Miller and Cassina, lighting from Flos and Iittala.
“Marion Hall Best: Interiors is a part of our Home & Architecture series, celebrating modernism in Australia, the renewed public interest in its bold, simple, aesthetic and its significance to Sydney’s heritage,” says Mark Goggin, Executive Director, Sydney Living Museums.
Michael Lech further notes, “Best’s ability to transform space through colour has rarely been matched. Her work, once seen, was seldom forgotten.”