Annual Duldig Lecture for 2017 | Wednesday 18th October 2017

Design Sensibility: Viennese émigrés in Australia

Professor Harriet Edquist, Professor of Architectural History, RMIT University


Duldig Studio sitting room

Situated between international modernism on the one hand and local debates about “Australian” architecture and design propounded by Robin Boyd and others on the other, Viennese designers negotiated the values of domestic design they had absorbed in the cities of Europe within a fast-changing postwar Australian environment. In this lecture Harriet Edquist will show how personal histories of émigré and refugee Viennese designers throw into question Australian design history’s often limited definition of design as a purely modernist professional practice beholden to a national agenda. It will argue that on the contrary, geographical and cultural boundaries are fluid, that learning never stops, that memory was often central to the émigré expression of “home” and that the ideology of the avant-garde could be avoided.

Inaugurated in 1986 the Annual Duldig Lecture on Sculpture commemorates the life and work of the artists Karl Duldig and Slawa Horowitz Duldig. This year, the annual lecture coincides with Slawa: Modernist Art + Design, an exhibition at the Duldig Studio that provides a survey of Slawa Horowitz-Duldig’s paintings, drawings, sculptures, textiles and designs for her magical umbrella.

Harriet Edquist is Professor of Architectural History in the School of Architecture and Design at RMIT University and the Director of the RMIT Design Archives. She has published extensively on Australian architecture, art and design with a particular focus on the 20th century and has pioneered studies on émigré architects in Melbourne and the Australian Arts and Crafts movement. She is also a curator and has presented major innovative exhibitions on diverse subjects, ranging from the cultural landscape of the Western District to Australian car design. Her current research includes the ARC funded project: Bauhaus Australia: Transforming Education in Art, Architecture and Design.

Her books and exhibitions include: Pioneers of Modernism: The Arts and Crafts Movement in Australia (2008); George Baldessin: Paradox and Persuasion (2009); Building a New World: a History of the State Library of Victoria 1853-1913 (2013); Shifting Gear: Design, Innovation and the Australian Car (with David Hurlston) (2015).

This lecture is supported by the Duldig Studio, museum + sculpture garden.

Date: 6.30pm-7.30pm, Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Venue: Forum Theatre, Arts West Building, University of Melbourne, Parkville VIC 3010

Admission is free. Bookings are required as seating is limited.

To register visit:

For further information please contact:   Associate Professor Alison Inglis