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As part of the Robin Boyd centenary celebrations, Heide Museum of Modern Art will present Robin Boyd: Design Legend, a new exhibition celebrating the work of one of Australia’s most respected and well-known architects, and one of the nation’s first public intellectuals and media celebrities. Presented in the iconic modernist building Heide II from 3 August to 27 October 2019, the exhibition is a major event in the centenary celebrations of Boyd’s birth and explores some of his key design themes and principles through ten of his distinctive houses. 

Heide Museum of Modern Art Artistic Director Lesley Harding says, “Heide’s rich history in design and architecture makes it the perfect place to reflect on Robin Boyd’s remarkable career and enduring legacy. We are delighted to offer unparalleled access to some of his iconic residential designs through our open house program and look forward to celebrating the centenary of this acclaimed architect.”

During his career Boyd designed more than 300 projects, from residences to civic buildings, and was driven to prompt, inspire and provoke an awareness of good design among the widest possible audience. Robin Boyd: Design Legend offers audiences unparalleled insight into some of Boyd’s key design themes as expressed in ten houses including the influential House of Tomorrow (1949), Boyd’s own house in Walsh Street, South Yarra (1958), the renowned Featherston house, Ivanhoe (1967–9) and several houses local to Heide. 

As well as photographs and drawings of each of the ten houses, the exhibition will include architectural models created by RMIT Master of Architecture students supervised by architect Christopher Hewson, a dynamic new filmic narrative on Boyd’s life and work, and original archival material. Many of the photographs in the exhibition are by acclaimed architectural photographers such as Mark Strizic, Wolfgang Sievers and John Gollings.

Robin Boyd: Design Legend is intended to introduce new audiences to Boyd, re-connect existing audiences with his work and influence, and communicate Boyd’s humanist belief that good design can improve people’s lives and the world we live in. The exhibition also offers insight into his work in other disciplines, from publishing to furniture and exhibition design. 

Beyond the buildings themselves, Boyd was an academic, author and public lecturer, known by many for his Boyer Lectures broadcast by the ABC and his highly influential best-seller The Australian Ugliness, which opened up debate in Australia about design, architecture and urban planning. 

Everyone who creates a bad building is, in some sort of a way, committing a crime against society – Robin Boyd

For Boyd, good design was not the preserve of the elite or the architectural fraternity, but something that should be available to the broader community. From 1947 to 1953, he was the inaugural director of the Small Homes Service, run by the Royal Victorian Institute of Architects in conjunction with The Age. The highly successful service developed, and made available for £5, plans for 40 different architect-designed homes published in The Age. The exhibition spaces will suggest an architectural studio, with photographs, plans and sections of the ten Boyd houses pinned to the walls and the models displayed alongside them.  Within the exhibition will be a range of Boyd’s furniture made under license by K5+Kinnarps in collaboration with designer Garry Emery. The pieces will be auctioned at the end of the exhibition period, with the funds raised supporting both Heide and the Boyd Foundation.   

Robin Boyd: Design Legend will be accompanied by a tailored public program, a highlight of which will be open home tours at a number of the houses featured in the exhibition during September and October. 

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