181 Clarence Street, Sydney, 1953–54
No texts or plans for this project have been found. From colour transparencies probably taken by Max Dupain, it was a showroom for Bruck fabrics distributor W. L. Gilbert Pty Ltd, located within an office building.
The tenancy was divided by partition walls and ceiling-suspended screens—defining various zones for guest waiting, reception, office, showroom and other purposes.
Suspended beams and screen frames articulated a 3D grid of black lines across the whole space. Screen walls were either frosted glass or painted primary red, yellow or blue. Floors were finished with red linoleum tiles. These strategies together produced a strongly geometric aesthetic that was apparently inspired by the paintings of Piet Mondrian.
The black grid-defined entrance included a pale timber door beside a glass panel, through which could be seen a row of three green Snelling Line webbing lounge chairs, accompanied by a cantilevered side table and a low planter box. Beyond this waiting area was the reception desk.
In the office areas, blond wood desktops rested on black drawer cabinets fitted with blond wood handles. These units (consistent with Snelling’s styling of furniture around this time) were arranged either singly or as pairs of face-to-face desks aligned against a wall and separated by black-framed screens of frosted glass.
Chairs were Snelling dining models with green webbing, but the photos included a standard swivelling secretary’s chair on castors, Snelling lounge chairs and one Charles Eames LCW moulded plywood lounge chair (designed 1945-46).
The showroom zones included large benches for fabric cutting, with two large side windows screened by vertical timber louvres (possibly adjustable to filter the sunlight). The bathroom incorporated burlwood-veneered cabinets along two walls, with four vertical mirrors above two basins that were separated by a red benchtop.
—Architecture. 1954. ‘Office Buildings Sydney’, April-June, p. 85.