Monday, 27 February 2017

Vale - Emeritus Professor Kjell Grant 1927-2017

The Montreal chair designed by industrial designer, architect, artist, and educator Kjell Grant was commissioned by Robin Boyd to feature in the Australian Pavilion at World Expo in Montreal and this year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Montreal chair and all the creative contibution of Australian designers to Expo67.

Not a bad "yarn".

Emeritus Professor Kjell Grant 1927-2017

If you had the good fortune to know Kjell Grant you would know that he loved a great yarn. It may have been a yarn about New York in the fifties working in the office of Raymond Loewy, or studying under Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth or Mies van der Rohe, or even working for Cartier, Orrefors and Rosenthal. Whatever the yarn, it engaged, inspired and most importantly for his many students, ignited the desire to take on the world.

Montreal chair designed by Kjell Grant - commissioned by Robin Boyd for the Australian Pavilion at Expo67.

In founding Melbourne Movement in 1999 Grant went much further than just words.

He committed to the challenge of introducing the talent of young and emerging designers from Melbourne to the world. Inspired by his own legendary teachers, Grant had for many years lectured furniture design in Melbourne. He was absolutely convinced of the immense talent of his students. They just needed a platform.

Melbourne Movement has proven itself to be a very sound platform. In 2015 Grant was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Design Institute of Australia for his contribution to education.

Alberto Alessi recently acknowledged Australian designers as the second largest group of designers for his iconic italian design factory brand Alessi. Significantly, Melbourne Movement members Jim Hannon-Tan, Lisa Vincitorio, and Adam Cornish all have products with Alessi after exhibiting at Salone Satellite in Milan. Celebrated designers Nick Rennie and Helen Kontouris studied under Grant.

I recall vividly the day Kjell Grant saw the Trinity bowl prototype designed by Adam Cornish as he prepared for Milan. Kjell was so excited by the work and convinced of the huge potential of his protégé. The Trinity range has proved to be a huge success for Alessi and just last week Alessi released the Arris wall clock designed by Cornish.

Designers Adam Cornish and Lisa Vincitorio with Melbourne Movement founder Emeritus Professor Kjell Grant.

In 2017 Salone Satellite celebrates 20 years and has commissioned an exhibition of the best designers to emerge from Milan. Melbourne Movement has exhibited every year since 1999. Over the 20 years perhaps as many as 10,000 young designers have journied to Milan exhibiting prototypes.

Melbourne Movement designer Adam Cornish has been honoured to be selected by the curators of the 20th anniversary of Salone Satellite exhibition.

A best of the best show..... not a bad yarn Kjell.

Rest in peace.

Kjell Grant 1927-2017

More posts on Emeritus Professor Kjell Grant here.


  1. I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of my favourite lecturer Kjell Grant. I was honoured to have been taught by Kjell during my Industrial Design degree at RMIT in the mid 90s. His belief in me led me to major in Commercial Furniture.
    Kjell Grant will remain forever in my memory as the lecturer who made me believe in myself.
    He had such an infectious, inspiring effect on those around him, always encouraging the best out of his students. I am saddened to hear that he will no longer be spreading courage and the joy of design with students. But he will live in my memory for the everlasting effect he had on my life. Rest in peace, Kjell.

  2. Kjell became my friend, colleague and mentor when we both participated in a furniture design mission to Japan in 1990. He asked permission to view my folio, an act so respectful, engaging and overlaid with easy formality that our bond was forged.
    From then on Kjell's dynamism and steady engagement has been ever present in my life. His enthusiasm for design was more than infectious but above all he engendered a platform of equals. We freely expressed different opinions without undermining our friendship.
    My endearing memory is of the two of us being locked out of my workshop in Fitzroy. We had been imbibing and yarning in the Night Cat on a Friday eve, leaving our keys and valuables scattered on my desk at MSW. In order to retrieve our belongings we had to remove a very heavy steel fire door - dark firewell, a brick, a steel rod our found tools. A two person compact that a silk suited Kjell joined with relish. Needless to say that door was no impediment.
    Kjell's eyes expressed all, determination, passion, vision, fun, dear friend.

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