EXPO MARK II SOUND CHAIR
—Designed by Grant & Mary Featherson
What a great chair and, ahem, conversation piece! Read on and you'll understand my lame joke.
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Expo 67 Montreal was an opportunity to showcase Australian innovation on the world stage and a highlight of the Australian pavilion were 240 original Expo Sound chairs. Robin Boyd, designer of the pavilion's interior and displays, commissioned Melbourne-based contemporary furniture designers Grant and Mary Featherston to develop a 'talking chair' to deliver information about Australia to visitors in seated comfort. The chairs were upholstered in dark green wool with either a green cushion for English audio, or an orange cushion for French audio. Speakers installed in the headrests were activated by the pressure of a person sitting in the chair. An audio system controlled from the basement played three-minute segments of well-known Australians talking about Australia and the exhibits surrounding the visitor. The system, which cost $1 million to produce, was designed so that if an occupant of the chair left in the middle of the tape, it would start again from the beginning when a new occupant sat down. A total of 2000 tapes were made to withstand the wear and tear of being used 12 hours a day, seven days a week for six months. The estimated life of a tape under these conditions was four to six weeks. The National Museum of Australia recently acquired an Expo Mark II sound chair, adapted for the domestic market from the original Expo chair design by Aristoc Industries.
—From the National Museum of Austrailia Website