24 AUG 2020

New Zealand Modern Collection | Opens September 18, 2020

Join us to celebrate New Zealand Modern for 2020 in collaboration with Laree Payne of Weasel Gallery. This marks our fourth exhibition of rare and collectable works of New Zealand modern design from the 1940s–1990s.


New Zealand Modern Collection

18 September – 3 October, 2020

15 Williamson Ave, Ponsonby

Unfortunately under our current Level 2.5 guidelines, sadly we are unable to hold the preview event as we intended. We will be opening our New Zealand Modern Collection exhibition this Friday, 18th September with refreshments being served throughout Friday and Saturday. During this time we would love for you to come by the gallery to view the exhibition during our regular gallery hours.

The Collection will remain in the gallery until Saturday 3 October. Items purchased prior will remain on view until the exhibition closes.

View the Collection


New Zealand may be a small Pacific Island but that has never stopped the people who live here from achieving greatness at an international level. Our country was nowhere near the epicentre of European modernism but that couldn’t stop a small number of talented makers, designers and back-yard tinkerers from creating highly progressive and memorable work that stands out and remains relevant today.  

Since 2017, the team at Mr. Bigglesworthy have curated a thoughtful, annual collection of rare and coveted New Zealand design. This has become a regular feature on the calendar for the team at Mr. Bigglesworthy. With the changing mix of objects, the concept and presentation is reconsidered each year to enable experimentation.

For the New Zealand Modern Collection of 2020, Mr. Bigglesworthy is proud to collaborate with Weasel Gallery, run by Laree Payne. The concept images and exhibition include two artists, Rachel Hope Peary and Chauncey Flay. Both artists approach their practice with a focus on materiality, form, clean lines and with a keen sculptural sensibility – a natural fit with modernist design pieces.

This collaborative approach follows a thread which has been evident from Mr. Bigglesworthy since the opening of the store in 2011 with a series installations and works on show by artists and emerging designers. Dan and Emma Eagle are keen to pursue this direction in conjunction with the more established design store offering.

New Zealand Modern Collection Highlights

The New Zealand Modern Collection of 2020 showcases a specifically Pan-pacific interpretation of the ideas of modernism. Ground-breaking work focused on honest, functional forms devoid of superfluous decoration. 

It's been a dream of Dan and Emma Eagle to collect and restore a Curvesse Chair (1944) by Garth Chester. The unique, cantilever chair crafted from a single piece of plywood elevated by two simple feet is one of the most memorable designs to emerge from mid-century New Zealand and it remains an important piece of modernist design history.

As Chester's first entry into furniture design, the Curvesse Chair demonstrates a pure, clean form and expressive intention through the sculptural design. He boasted of the speed of production using the new steam bending technology however the conservative New Zealand audience offered no reason to speed through such daring, minimal chairs.

In the decade that followed World War II, designers continued to experiment with new materials and the influence of modernism from a new wave of immigrant architects. It was a period of global change and a move towards open plan interiors and lightness of form. John Crichton surfaces in design annuals during this time, recognised mainly for his work in lighting objects and a prolific series of mosaic tile bowls.

The New Zealand Modern Collection of 2020 includes three cane furniture designs and a large mosaic tile bowl work, finished in a spun copper base. Each furniture piece reflects the period's optimism, combining natural or plastic coated cane with a wrought iron frame to create confident, graphic forms.

Stephane Rondel enters the New Zealand design landscape in the 1990s, in sync with other international post modern designers like Marc Newson and Ron Arad. He developed a playful series of objects, generally in aluminium, which often drew from sexual or suggestive themes.

Dan and Emma Eagle have collected pieces from Rondel for several years and have also admired his architectural contributions like the Sky City Metro building by Jasmax, where the façade on one elevation is finished with a screen designed by Rondel. The Collection includes a suite of functional table sculptures including pairs of salt and pepper shakers and a pair of candlesticks.

All the pieces from the Collection demonstrate the imaginative use of materials at a point in time of significant social change, reflecting the desire to live differently. Half a century later, we are again faced with changing the way we live in light of the health crisis.

This Collection reminds us to appreciate those timeless objects which get better with age when so other elements of life seems so transient. It also seems important to value and celebrate our local design history of brave, pioneering thinkers who pushed the boundaries.

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