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A Modern Home

Stevenson, Kinder & Scott's photographs convey a 1960s and 1970s vision of the 'home beautiful'. Australian consumers were exposed to international design trends and imported products. In this environment, Western Australian furniture designer and manufacturer, Supa Furn, developed the Lazy Boy outdoor seating as a modern backyard icon. The home mini-bar, shag pile, animal print and vinyl upholstery soared in popularity. Loved or loathed, the style trends of the 50s, 60s and 70s have shaped the interiors of today.

Home beautiful

Furniture made in Western Australia by Catt Furniture, circa 1976, Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography, State Library of Western Australia, 326108PD

Setting the stage

A model strokes her hair, delicately places fine china, lifts a wine glass by the stem; the furniture showroom is staged for the performance of products. These 1960s photographs are entirely contrived. They were likely taken for furniture exhibition catalogues and other forms of print advertising. Glamorously dressed women feature in many of Stevenson, Kinder & Scott's advertising photographs. Usually photographs were staged with models to sell the image of a desirable life; the women's bodies objectified to sweeten the sell.

Interior of a dining room with a woman standing near a sideboard, Circa 1966, Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography, State Library of Western Australia, 341555PD

Len Hearn Furnishings showroom, circa 1966, Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography, State Library of Western Australia, 340075PD

Supa Furn dining room furniture displayed in a house, circa 1966, Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography, State Library of Western Australia, 341709PD

Mid Century Modern

Furniture manufactured in Australia between the 1950s to 1970s was heavily influenced by international style trends. Designers moved away from conservative pre-war styles to develop a new language of design. In furniture, this mid-century style was characterised by simplified and steam-lined forms, tapered furniture legs, natural wood finishes and bold colours.

Lounge room furniture, 1969, Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography, State Library of Western Australia, 326179PD

The mid-century style legs on this Astor television console highlight how it was designed to seamlessly integrate into modern living rooms. Televisions were considered pieces of furniture as much as entertainment appliances. This photograph was taken in 1969; the year of the first moon landing and its television broadcast. Models, like the one pictured, remained in Australian homes well into the 1980s.

Best known for their radios, Astor was a Victorian based electronics manufacturer. The demise of the brand began in the 1970s when it was absorbed by the Phillips electronics company. Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography, State Library of Western Australia, 326206PD

Atomic Age

From the mid 1940s, fears of Cold War nuclear destruction prevailed in Western society. Artists and designers of the 'atomic age' responded through practicing increased abstraction. Atomic motifs such as atom shapes and space symbols became more apparent in art and industrial design. The organic forms of furniture and holographic artwork seen in this photograph from the 1970s were strongly influenced by atomic age design.

Moulded dining suite, 1974, Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography, State Library of Western Australia, 360854PD

The dining chairs pictured are in the style of the Panton chair (1960) made by Danish designer, Vernon Panton. The Panton chair was the first chair to be manufactured out of a single piece of plastic; 'atomic' in its organic curve to follow the shape of the human body. The table is aesthetically similar to Finnish-American designer Eero Saarinen's Tulip table, which was first designed in 1955.

Supa Furn

Western Australian furniture designer and manufacturer, Supa Furn, was known for designing and producing modern indoor furniture and folding outdoor furniture of the Lazy-Boy style. Throughout the 1960s to 1980s, Stevenson, Kinder & Scott were commissioned to photograph products and showrooms for Supa Furn's extensive advertising campaigns. First established as Steel Furniture Pty Ltd, the business began as a backyard workshop during the war in 1943, before moving operations to Osborne Park in 1954.

Dining suite, 1969, Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography, State Library of Western Australia, 340145PD

Supa Furn was one of the first Western Australian businesses to design and manufacture modern style 'tubular' furniture. Tubular furniture describes the tube like shape of the metal frame; single pieces of metal (usually steel and later aluminium) would be bent to shape the legs, arms and supports. The furniture represented modern innovation by reducing frameworks to simplified forms and exposing the furniture skeleton by eliminating bulky padding and tall chair backs. Dining settings, like the ones pictured, marked a new era of informal dining which echoed social changes in eating and dining. The formal and bulkier furniture of previous decades became less attractive as consumers were persuaded to furnish a modern home.

Dining suites sold by SupaFurn, Perth, 11 April 1980, Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography, State Library of Western Australia, 321980PD

Tubular style furniture originates with the innovation of the European Bauhaus, a German architecture, art and design movement of the 1920s to 1930s. While tubular furniture became popular in Europe prior to World War II, during the war, production of these designs virtually ceased. After the war, production resumed and exports exposed Australian designers and manufactures to tubular styles. The Supa Furn design pictured above is a modern fusion influenced by Bauhaus designs, such as Marcel Bruer's Wassily (B3) and B34 chairs. The moulded plastic chair seat is likely influenced by designs made from single plastic sheets which were popularised by Charles and Ray Eames during the 1950s.

Furnishing the Great Outdoors

Outdoor furniture was not always commonplace. Furniture advertising from the late 1950s persuaded consumers that outdoor spaces needed to be attractively furnished. The 1960s to 1980s in Australia witnessed the rise of brightly coloured folding chairs as desirable and affordable outdoor icons.

The Lazy-Boy

Outdoor furniture sold by Supafurn, Perth, 15 June 1978, Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography, State Library of Western Australia,362837PD 

Supa Furn coined the Lazy brand including the Lazy Boy, Lazy Baby, Lazy Fold ranges. The concept was based on a type of metal folding chair created by Fredric Arnold of New York in 1947. The first Lazy Boy prototype was made in 1959 with a steel frame. This was switched to lighter and more portable, aluminium frames with nylon webbing during the early 1960s.

Lazy - Your Way

Supa Furn's 1960s market research found that outdoor furniture was more likely to be purchased by women and that women made the final decision about furniture purchases in 80% of cases.

Supa Furn Pty Ltd furniture showroom and factory, 1966, Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography, State Library of Western Australia, 341776PD

Interstate and Local Expansion

In the 1960s, Supa Furn instated Lazy Boy distributors in Australian capital cities. Shown here are advertisements from the Canberra Times and the Beverly Times from the Western Australian wheatbelt town of Beverly. Advertising efforts were concentrated towards summer months of October to December - peak buying periods.

The Canberra Times, November 25, (1961, November 25). p. 10.

Before the introduction of decimal currency (1966), the price of goods in newspaper advertisements was listed in pounds.

The Beverley Times, December 17, 1965, p. 8.
Australia's Greatest Snap-Fold Lounge!

Full page colour advertisements in the Australian Women's Weekly and Woman's Day magazines were part of Supa Furn's strategy to attract their target audience.

The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982) 7 December 1960: 10
Holidaying - entertaining - relaxing? then now's the time for lazy-boy
The Australian Women's Weekly, (1965, October 13)

'This could be you'

The appeal of holidaying, entertaining and relaxing with style and comfort made Lazy Boy an attractive and versatile way to be outside. Models and demonstrators are pictured in many of Supa Furn's promotional photographs; they were integral for staging and selling the lifestyle that Lazy Boy products promised.

Lazy Boy outdoor chairs demonstrated at Kings Park, 1966, Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography, State Library of Western Australia, 341753PD

The Kitchen Outdoors

Outdoor living spaces were not completely furnished without a BBQ. This electric BBQ was manufactured in the late 1960s and appeared in electrical store catalogues during the early 1970s. Known as the 'Bar-B-Lec', the BBQ was manufactured by Stokes in Ringwood (Victoria) and branded as a BBQ alternative for total fire ban periods.

Electric barbecue sold by Joe Sarich Electrical Discounter, 18 September 1975, Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography, State Library of Western Australia, 361638PD

The Kitchen Inside

A Kitchen Icon

'The most versatile mixer in the world' - the Kenwood Chef electric mixer was heralded as, "a complete food processing system," equipped with attachments for dicing, mixing, slicing, shredding and even opening cans! Kenwood released the Chef Mixer A701A (pictured) in 1962. Designed by British Industrial designer, Kenneth Grange, it was a modern re-design of the Chef Mixer A700 (1950). In 1969, a Chef Mixer could be purchased in Australia for $79. Popularity of the Chef Mixer continued into the 1990s.

THINK OF THE TIME YOU'LL SAVE WITH A CLEVER MIXER THAT DICES VEGETABLES, PEELS FRUIT, DOES A DOZEN MAGIC THINGS WHILE YOU RELAX!

- Kenwood Chef advertisement, The Canberra Times, 26 January 1962

Kenwood electric mixer, 1969, Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography, State Library of Western Australia, 326208PD

Kenwood Chef A701 television advertisement from the late 1960s

Advertising presented the Kenwood Chef as an aspiration, a desirable and time saving appliance for the home-maker and modern kitchen.

Affordable Appliances

Joe Sarich Electrical

Sandwich board advertising in the Hay Street Mall, Perth, for Joe Sarich Electrical Discounter Pty Ltd of Warwick and Midland, 2 October 1975, Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography, State Library of Western Australia, 361666PD

Between 1975 to 1979 Stevenson, Kinder & Scott produced catalogue photographs for Joe Sarich Electrical Discount Stores. The stores in Midland and Wawrick sold a wide range of goods from electric lawnmowers to washing machines and dryers. Fondue sets, creperie's and heated slippers were just a some of the electrical products available at Joe Sarich Electrical to consumers with disposable income.

From left to right: Toaster (362660PD), crepe maker (362663PD), fondue set (362807PD), heated slipper, (362664P). Products sold by Joe Sarich, Electrical Discounter Pty Ltd, Perth, 20 March 1978, State Library of Western Australia, Stevenson Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography Collection.

Style Trends

Bar at home

The home mini-bar grew in popularity in the post World War II period as more people moved from the city to the suburbs. Styles varied throughout the 60s, 70s and 80s, ranging from simple drinks cupboards and trolleys, to elaborate home bars.

Bar built in and equipped with a soda syphon

Lounge room furniture sold by Allwood Furniture, 1973, Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography, State Library of Western Australia, 348231PD

Serving Swan Lager and Schweppes

Bar setting, 1976, Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography, State Library of Western Australia, 331469PD

Szaba aquarium furniture, 1969, Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography, State Library of Western Australia, 340152PD

Not Just Fashion

Animal print designs grew in popularity from the 1940s, firstly in fashion and then in interior design. They featured on wallpaper designs, camoflaged sofas and adorned bedroom suites. By the 1970s animal print styles were associated with the hippie movement, and bohemian and punk rock lifestyles.

Modern settee covered in cow hide print, 1970, Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography, State Library of Western Australia, 342198PD.

Model lying in a waterbed, 1974, Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography, State Library of Western Australia, 360856PD

Vinyl

Easier to clean, robust and available in a range of colours, vinyl upholstery offered an affordable alternative to leather. The lounge suite pictured is an example of a typical vinyl suite from the late 1960s to the 1970s. Dark green paired with harvest gold was a favoured colour scheme throughout the period.

Lounge suite, 1969, Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography, State Library of Western Australia, 326180PD

Shag Pile

Often likened to a manicured lawn, shag pile peaked in popularity during the 60s and 70s. The textured rugs became synonymous with the counter-cultural hippie movement. Shag pile was favoured by designers for its versatile application - across floors and up walls. By the 1980s, shag pile rugs had fallen out of taste.

Furniture made in Western Australia by Catt Furniture, 1976, Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography, State Library of Western Australia, 326107PD

Napolean dining chairs and carver manufactured by Catt Furniture, 1976, Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography, State Library of Western Australia, 341885PD

Bedroom suite, 1974, Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography, State Library of Western Australia, 360736PD

Love or Loathe?

Love them or loathe them, style trends of the 60s and 70s have shaped contemporary living.

Explore more

Further Reading

  • Astor portable television, (2017), Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 26 May 2020, <https://ma.as/53432> https://collection.maas.museum/object/53432
  • Barnett, B., Colour TV in Australia, National Film and Sound Archive < https://www.nfsa.gov.au/latest/colour-tv-part-1> accessed 3 June 202
  • Export bid for chairs (1981, April 7). Papua New Guinea Post-Courier (Port Moresby : 1969 - 1981), p. 18. Retrieved May 4, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article250684474
  • Industry takes a hand, (1954, November 28). Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 - 1954), p. 37. Retrieved May 4, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59698351
  • Jeffreys, H Home bar. Gibbs smith inc pub, [s.l.], 2018
  • Marcel Breuer Club Chair, 2019, MOMA, < https://www.moma.org/collection/works/2851> accessed 26 May 2020
  • Origins of Australian television, (2020), National Museum of Australia, accessed 26 May 2020, < https://www.nma.gov.au/defining-moments/resources/tv-and-melbourne-olympics > accessed 8 June 2020
  • Randl, Chad. "Sensuality and shag carpeting: a design review of a postwar floor covering." The Senses and Society, vol. 5, no. 2, 2010, p. 244 < accessed 8 June 2020.
  • Schuldenfrei, Robin, ed. Atomic dwelling: anxiety, domesticity, and postwar architecture. Routledge, 2012.
  • Stine, L.V, Making the Eames Shell Chair, (2017) Vitra Design Museum < https://www.vitra.com/en-au/magazine/details/the-story-of-an-icon> accessed 26 May 2020
  • Supa Furn Pty. Ltd. furnishing the great outdoors, (1968). Australian Marketing Projects: the Hoover Award for Marketing.
  • The History of Kenwood Stand Mixers, (2019), Kenwood < https://www.kenwoodworld.com/uk/about-kenwood/history-of-stand-mixer > . Accessed 4 May 2020

This digital story is part of a series created for the online exhibition Staged To Sell: Iconic Advertising Images from the Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Photographic Collection.

Created By
State Library WA
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Credits:

Photographs - State Library of Western Australia pictorial collection