Look around where you are right now, and see the sculptures that reflect a certain ‘taste’. In the office, those sculptures can be strong, functional and durable. At home, they might be soft, comfortable, minimalist or gauche.

Numero IV - Grant and Ma
Believe it or not, the furniture in our homes and offices are practical sculptures that have a history rooted in the differences between peasants and aristocracy. At one time, paupers could only afford seats created by their own hands, while the aristocracy enjoyed beautifully created chairs and lounges, carved from the finest wood and covered in beautiful upholstery.

Swivel Chair - Charles Wilson
Australian history too can be told through household objects, furniture and design classics.  The Ideal Home, a remarkable exhibition which opens at the Powerhouse Museum on 8 June, explores Australian experiences of home and family life across the past 120 years, whilst simultaneously addressing contemporary social issues of domestic violence and homelessness. 

More than 45 objects and artworks from the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences collection will be on display including furniture, home appliances, architectural models, interior design and everyday domestic objects, with an emphasis on mid-century Australian design.

There are two new additions to the collection forming part of exhibition. 'Prevail', is a group of eight small vessels displayed in a still life arrangement by Adelaide-based ceramic artist Kirsten Coelho, and that is joined by Sydney designer Charles Wilson’s flamboyant red leather upholstered Swivel Chair. Each are truly works-of-art in their own right.

The Seat of Love and Hate - eX de Medici
Highlight pieces in the display include ‘The Seat of Love and Hate’ an 18th century French love settee upholstered with machine-embroidered fabric by acclaimed artist eX de Medici, Karla Dickens’ series of appliqued straightjackets titled ‘Bound’ - exploring the experience of some women as ‘bound’ to the home by domesticity, family, financial dependence and addiction, and a piano donated to the Museum on behalf of the people who once lived at the Martin Place safe space, a former tent city set-up by homeless people, now since removed.

Piano - Martin Place 'Safe Place'
So much of our lives take place in our homes, around our furniture and the household items we interact with everyday. This exhibition delves deeper into these “everyday” objects to not only explore the connection between design and technology with Australian history, but to also address social issues that continue to present in home life today.

So, take a look around again, and imagine the stories that our furniture and household items will tell to the historians of the future. 

The Ideal Home is open at the Powerhouse Museum from 8 June.

Entry is included with general admission to the Powerhouse Museum ($15 adult, Free for Children 16 and under).
Visit maas.museum/event/the-ideal-home/  for more info