Art Gallery of South Australia Releases Khai Liew Armchair

Art Gallery of South Australia Releases Khai Liew Armchair
Khai Liew's armchair
(Courtesy Art Gallery of South Australia)

The Art Gallery of South Australia has released a limited edition armchair by renowned Australian furniture designer Khai Liew to commemorate the acquisition of “Collec+ors,” a suite of furniture created by Khai Liew in conjunction with eminent Australian artists Julie Blyfield, Kirsten Coelho, Gwyn Hanssen Pigott, Jessica Loughlin, Bruce Nuske, and Prue Venables.

Liew’s armchair is crafted in American black walnut that evokes the spirit of the Arts and Crafts Movement, a style that that influenced the “Collec+ors” works. Khai’s much loved mitre joint is employed in the chair, a construction technique which requires much skill and exactitude and which you also see in his “Gallery” benches for the Art Gallery, incidentally Khai’s first commission, designed 17 years ago. While the limited edition looks elemental, like much of Khai’s work, the construction is complex and each chair has taken around 45 hours to make.

Wendy Walker, author of the “Collec+ors” catalogue, wrote of Liew: “In an ongoing invigoration of his design vocabulary, the confident designs for ‘Collec+ors’ simultaneously incorporate and reinvent representative elements from earlier works, whilst exploring the possibilities offered by collaboration – the angularity and linenfold strategies of the ‘Kirsten’ chair; the strict geometry of the Jessica screen (strikingly aligned with glass panels); the chamfered surfaces and unprecedented organic, Art-Nouveau-like quality of the ‘Julie’ cabinet on a stand; the flow and diminution of mass integral to the ‘Gwyn’ serving table and the almost animated disposition of the ‘Prue’ cupboard.”

The armchair comes in three upholstery options: linen, leather and wool. There are two wool and one leather chair remaining at 11 February 2013. All funds raised through the sale of the limited edition will be directed towards the acquisition of “Collec+ors” for the Gallery’s permanent collection.

Khai Liew was born in Malaysia of Chinese parentage and moved to Australia in 1971. His early pragmatism serendipitously led to a decades-long championing of Australian colonial furniture. Liew has exhibited at institutions including the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Design Museum London and his pieces are represented in the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Australia, the Powerhouse Museum, the Art Gallery of Western Australia, and the Art Gallery of South Australia.