Tonight I was lucky enough to hear Joanna Nicholas and Michael Lech speak at The Mint about one of my favourite Australian interior designers Marion Hall-Best. She was a fiend with colour - chartreuse, magenta, burnt orange. I remember my Gran telling me she much preferred Marion to Florence, as Florence was a bit snobby.
We saw a beautiful show and tell of fabric samples she imported and sold in her Woollahra shop - Marimekko, Jim Thompson silks, and Frances Burke fabrics. She also supported Australian artists and designers such as Gordon Andrews, Grant Featherston and Clement Meadmore.
Her overseas travel inspired her aesthetic. In particular, a trip to Japan in 1957 lead to her bringing back "temple blinds" (like matchstick blinds but very fine which she spray painted in spinach green, white or orange) and rice paper which she used as wallpaper. I remember my old apartment hallways in Darlinghurst being covered with this textured paper - suddenly I appreciate it a little more! She must have been in Japan at the same time as my grandparents - my grandpa constructed a zen garden in Lane Cove which I loved when I was little. It reminds me of our trip last year and how incredibly inspiring the country is.
There were some family and colleagues of Lady Hall-Best in the audience, who kindly illuminated on the details of fabric and interiors. I am in love with her sister's name: Dora Sweetapple. The only other name that can almost compete is one Yumi told me of: Velvet Belle.
Swatches, colour cards, interior plans, wallpapers and diaries have been hunted down by the Caroline Simpson Research & Library Centre, which you can go and see during the week by appointment. They also have an extensive library connected to anything of the Australian home.
First Image: Dining alcove designed by MHB for Peter Playfair's flat in Elizabeth Bay, photographed by Antonia Blaxland, found at the Caroline Simpson Research & Library Centre, Sydney.
Second and Third Image: MHB interior, from "The Best Style: Marion Hall Best and Australian Interior Design 1935-1975" by Michaela Richards.