Modernist Tableware in Melbourne

A Modern Life

Tablewares 1930s–1980s

Free entry

NGV International

Level 2, Decorative Arts Passage

30 Mar – Jan 2019

Open Good Friday

The period following the Second World War witnessed enormous changes in society. The loss of domestic servants and home help in many houses, combined with more women going off to work outside the home, saw a need for new domestic arrangements. Dining wares were required to be more versatile – easily cared for and able to go from the oven to the table. A more optimistic outlook following the grimness of the war years saw a reaction against enforced functionalist austerity with an embrace of bold colour and pattern in the home. This exhibition illustrates the growing engagement with modern design by commercial manufacturers, charting the application of technical innovations in production and decorative techniques in pursuit of commercially competitive products.

The exhibition features works from the 1930s to the 1980s from leading manufacturers and designers across Britain, America, Japan and continental Europe. Whilst focusing on ceramics, the exhibition also explores the use of new materials resulting from wartime technological developments, including plastic, aluminum and stainless steel. Graphic design and advertising from the period form a feature of the show.


Read the Essay: A Modern Life: Tablewares 1930–1980s

This exhibition celebrates a generous gift of twentieth-century commercial tablewares from the Melbourne collector John Hinds. These works significantly enhance the National Gallery of Victoria’s collection and allow us to explore the history of twentieth-century industrial design in greater depth. The Second World War was a watershed in the twentieth century that marked a fundamental […]

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