Her shop was one of the glories of Rowe Street, itself one of the glories of old Sydney, before it was swept away along with the Hotel Australia and the old Theatre Royal. Marion Hall Best and her decorative schemes are revisited in an exhibition at the Museum of Sydney (until 12 Nov). Marion Hall Best: Interiors is part of Sydney Living Museums modernist season recalling a sophisticated and confident part of Sydney life. Marion Hall Best, having studied painting with Thea Proctor, architecture under Leslie Wilkinson, and a New York decorating course, established a fabrics workroom and display area in Queen Street, Woollahra in 1938. Her Rowe Street shop opened in 1949. Lady Hall Best was inspired by the modernist movement of the interwar years and the colour theories of a number of artists at that time. She is credited with having introduced international modernism to the Australian market. She stocked local designers including Gordon Andrews, Clement Meadmore and Leonard French, also imported textiles and furniture from designers such as Marimekko, Saarinen and Noguchi.
In parallel, there is another important exhibition also at the Museum of Sydney, The Moderns: European Designers in Sydney, which explores the stories of our emigré designers in the mid-20th century, whose European style and influence on modern Sydney is overlooked or overshadowed. Both are wonderful celebrations of people whose contributions should not be forgotten.
Subscribe to The Spectator Australia today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Subscribe – Try a month free