When California Design Comes Alive

A few months ago I was ‘living the high life’ in Los Angeles. Hip restaurants, Rodeo Drive shopping, celebrity clubs, Hollywood homes, fast cars and all that jazz – perhaps I am making this adventure sound slightly more glamorous than what it was. Unfortunately for me my whirlwind did not include the fabulous exhibits at The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).

Last week I had a spot of luck as LACMA’s brilliant collection ‘California Design’ had found me in my Australian home town – what a fantastic surprise! I was fortunate enough to be given a personal tour around the exhibit on Thursday as well as two tickets to ‘California Design Up Late’ at the Queensland Gallery of Art (QAG) on Friday night.


On Thursday I was blown away. Soaking in the artwork through a guided tour is a must. Meanwhile, Friday night’s ‘Up Late’ show had a real party vibe. It was almost like the movie ‘Night at the Museum’ where the characters come alive after closing time. Only this time, it was the night time air, live band playing over water, American food, fine wine and atmosphere buzzing brilliantly around the artwork that was bringing Brisbane’s QAG alive.


However let’s rewind a little shall we?

After parking in Brisbane city, my plus one and I approached the Goodwill Bridge with it’s tea-light charm and vibrant green spotlight. The Brisbane river and its overhanging buildings looked charming in the night’s light. The evening stroll was pleasant and just what I needed before entering the transformed QAG. Greeted with a very enthusiastic hello, I stepped through the large glass doors and back to Los Angeles in the 1930’s-60’s.



Allow me to set the scene. Men and women of all ages were wearing their palm tree designed button-downs and pop orange and fluro yellow accessories. The ticket counter was transformed into a bar for fabulous guests to sip champagne, beer and wine. Groups of friends were clustered under a fairy-lit tree in the outside courtyard enjoying Californian favourites such as beef and veggie burgers, pulled pork nacho’s and sushi platters.

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As I made my way through the exhibit I noticed the vibrant crowd excitedly snap pictures in front of their favourite pieces. Everybody in the room was there for the art and were, in a way, teleported back to the 1930’s-60’s in an exhibit filled with a Charles & Ray Eames wooden elephant, clothing by Irene Saltern and a John Kapel chair. Each room took the guests from home office spaces to lounges to wardrobes of clothing and beach necessities. I was back in Los Angeles’ high life again. Only this time it was a new world showing me where my much loved swim suits and household goods have stemmed from.

Now it would not be right finishing my blog without saying just how wonderful it was to see Barbie, Ken and Barbie’s dream house. The fashion, homewares and furniture from the exhibits’ era were all there in Barbie’s home. I felt like a little girl again wanting so badly to reach out and grab the dolls and set them in front of their cardboard TV.




On the way home, we listened to two more songs from the live band playing over the indoor water feature. Crowds of people filled the spaces around the stage, some swaying to the tunes, recording the antics and others rocking like there was no tomorrow.



I would rave about how fantastic ‘California Design’ is, however I would not be able to do the exhibit justice. I would rather you all come and experience the magic for yourselves. So plan your day – come to catch up with friends, stay for lunch and just come to see the show. Trust me, you will not leave disappointed.


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