Sofas fit for a King
Ever gone out to buy a lounge suite? It is a complicated process with many questions and lots of trying out. What configuration – a three-seater and two armchairs? Two two-seaters? Recliners? What about fabric – cotton, leather, microsuede? Colour – safe beige, striking purple, vibrant orange, chintz? High backs, low backs? Comfort level? All these questions and more exercised the minds of Freeman Ryan Design and museum staff when selecting new visitor seating for King’s Hall.
The previous furniture in King’s Hall was a mixed collection with brown leather sofas, brown ottomans (very popular for a run and dive with children, by the way) and cream armchairs. The placement of the furniture tended to artificially enclose the central portion of King’s Hall and so our goal was to provide inviting and coordinated seating that would open up the space.
The delivery guys have been and the new furniture designed by Walter Knoll is in place. We went for four corner suites and four bench seats. This furniture is specifically designed for commercial, high traffic applications – it needs to continue to look great after catering for thousands of visitors. Despite its industrial strength fabrication, the furniture has a light and airy feel showing the magnificent floor in King’s Hall to best effect. The suite is covered with leather in a very dark navy with practical removable covers. The seats are quite high and firm - no, you won’t sink into these sofas and have to grunt in an undignified manner to extricate yourself from their embrace. Highly appropriate given that the statue of King George V, the namesake of King’s Hall, is nearby.
The furniture design is unashamedly contemporary and they were chosen specifically to prevent any confusion in visitors’ minds between the visitor seating and the heritage furniture in and around King’s Hall including the many beautiful pieces designed by John Smith Murdoch. The furniture also serves to bring King’s Hall into the 21st century. The Museum of Australian Democracy may exist within one of the most significant heritage-listed buildings in the country but it is also a modern, innovative and evolving cultural institution which is reflected in the selection of this new furniture.
But now that we have selected the lounges and carefully thought about their placement, will the visitors sit? We will monitor the use of the furniture and occasionally view our closed circuit television footage to see how it is being used. Meantime, come on in and take a seat.