In the period of reconstruction that followed World War 11, record numbers of Australians set up home together and yet they did so in difficult circumstances. There were shortages of all kinds of materials, of labour and limited investment capital, all of which slowed the pace of the conversion from wartime manufacturing to the production of consumer goods. Melbourne designer Fred Ward devised a solution to the lack of affordable modern furniture that made use of skills servicemen and civilians had acquired during the war, it was the Patterncraft range of paper patterns, available by mail order through Australian Home Beautiful magazine from 1947. Ward had designed affordable modernist furniture in ‘native’ timbers for Myer Emporium that successfully addressed the middle class market from the mid 1930s. His work of rendering plans for the construction of Mosquitoes and Beaufighters by swiftly trained non-specialists during the war and his connection with Keith Murdoch and Australian Home Beautiful provided the basis for the national success of the Patterncraft. A subsequent innovation of furniture kits (packs) was a paradigm shift for the furniture industry and stimulated a widespread enthusiasm for DIY furniture construction in Australia, sanctioned by this leading designer and the popular taste-making publication, Australian Home Beautiful.
Paper presented at 'Constructing the Past', the Annual Conference of the Australian Historical Association, University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Austarlia, 30 June - 03 July 2009