Marion Hall Best: Interiors

SLM Marion Hall Best Room for Mary Quant 1967A new exhibition at Hazelhurst Arts Centre highlights the work of Marion Hall Best, Sydney’s pre-eminent interior designer of the 20th century. She was one of the first independent and most influential interior designers in Australia.

“This exhibition colourfully charts the work of Marion Hall Best and will display original furniture, fabrics, furnishings and fashion over the four decades from the mid-1930s,” said Belinda Hanrahan, Director, Hazelhurst Arts Centre. “We are thrilled to bring this vibrant exhibition to Hazelhurst Arts Centre as Marion Best was such an important designer, who many people will remember.”

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. This exhibition comes from Sydney Living Museums which holds the largest collection of textiles, furnishings, ephemera and imagery relating to Best’s work, much of which will be on display in this exhibition showcasing her career. Her interiors vibrated with bold colours and patterns and a signature of her commissioned interiors was her vibrant glazed painted finishes on walls and ceilings.

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 celebrates modernism in Australia and the renewed public interest in its bold, simple, aesthetic. “Best’s ability to transform space through colour has rarely been matched. Her work, once seen, was seldom forgotten,” said Sydney Living Museum’s Michael Lech, Curator of the exhibition.

Marion Hall Best: Interiors
Hazelhurst Arts Centre, 782 Kingsway, Gymea
Exhibition continues to 19 August 2018
Free entry

For more information, visit: for details.

Following its exhibition at Hazelhurst Arts Centre, Marion Hall Best: Interiors will be shown at the National Wool Museum, Geelong (13 September – 25 November); Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre, Murwillumbah (7 December – 10 February); and Wollongong Art Gallery (23 February – 24 November).

Image:  A room for Mary Quant’, display room designed by Marion Best for the Rooms on View exhibition, Daily Telegraph Home Centre, Sydney, 1967 (detail). Mary White, 1967. Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection, Sydney Living Museums. Photo © Estate of Mary White.