House of Representatives Chamber Bench Seat #1999-0486House of Representatives Chamber, North Wing, Main Floor
Two seater bench seat with a plain back and arms, padded seat with two fitted cushions, upholstered in green leather; deep curved apron with two locking drawers, with brass drawer pulls and locks; triple panelled back; on six square section legs.
This Chamber bench seat is still located in the House of Representatives Chamber where it was used in the Provisional Parliament House between 1927 and 1988. This bench was designed in 1926 by the Architects Department of the Federal Capital Commission, led by principal architect John Smith Murdoch, specifically for Provisional Parliament House. Murdoch’s design for this bench and the other Chamber furniture was inspired by the Westminster system of Parliament and the green and red colours of the two Chambers reflect the colour scheme of the lower and upper houses in the British House of Commons. The design of the Chambers in Provisional Parliament House had a significant impact on the design of the furniture which was to be housed in it. Murdoch’s plans from 1923 show he had originally designed the seating arrangement to mirror the galley seating of the House of Commons in England, but this was rejected by the Standing Committee on Public Works who advocated the horseshoe or semicircular pattern used in a number of European parliaments. At the same time, they rejected the suggestion of the Speaker that a rostrum be provided from which speeches would be given, maintaining the tradition of speeches being delivered at the central table. This meant that the furniture had to fit around a semicircle, presenting a difficult design and manufacturing challenge.
While most of the ceremonial furniture in both Chambers was built by Beard Watson & Co Ltd, the desks and bench seats were supplied by the Myer Emporium Ltd in Melbourne. Made out of Australian blackwood and leather supplied by Howe and Co Ltd, Myer subcontracted Messrs Johnstone and Morrison of Burnley, Victoria to manufacture these items. Sample items of the desks and bench seats were made and delivered so that Members could inspect and comment on their design. Based on their recommendations, alterations were made to the final design of the bench seats, and included the widening of the depth of the seats, and the alignment of the drawer beneath the seat.
|Medium||Blackwood; leather; brass|
|Creator’s name||John Smith Murdoch|
|Date created||Circa 1927|