Mary Featherston:

Design for Children


By Denise Whitehouse and Karen Fermo

In this video, filmed in the Robin Boyd designed Featherston house, Ivanhoe, Mary Featherston takes the viewer into a lesser-known aspect of the Grant and Mary Featherston design partnership: design for children and learning. Inspired by the birth of their first son in 1970 and the needs of professional women such as Mary for child daycare, the Featherstons became involved in children’s right movement and the accompanying revolution in the understanding of child development and learning. Here, Mary describes how their early research and development of interior design schemes and play furniture for community day care, combined with study tours to Sweden and Italy, led to her establishment of the highly innovative, first Children’s Museum at the Museum of Victoria in the 1980s and her move, in the 1990s, into progressive school design, beginning with Bialik College’s Early Learning Centre and Wooranna Park Primary School’s Years 5&6 Learning Neighbourhood, and her further development of alternative models for school design that have proven highly influential both nationally and internationally.


Images from the Featherston archive are included throughout the video.

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