Table #2001-1059Prime Minister’s Office, North Wing, Main Floor
Black bean veneer rectangular side table; cross banded top with mitred corners on square section legs.
During the early 1970s acute accommodation shortages in the Provisional Parliament House necessitated a major phase of redevelopment in which extensions were made to the front west and east sections of the building, new offices constructed on the roof and a new wing on the Senate side erected to match the wing added on the Representatives side in 1965. This redevelopment included a new suite for the Prime Minister and his staff, a new President of the Senate’s suite and new meeting rooms on the lower floor. The Prime Minister’s suite as it exists today was occupied by three Prime Ministers: Gough Whitlam (1972 to 1975), Malcolm Fraser (1975 to 1983) and Bob Hawke (1983 to 1988).
New furniture, such as this table, was manufactured or purchased to complement these new rooms. Unlike the 1920s, when all of the furniture was designed specifically by the architect to fit out the building, the furniture supplied for new suites such as this and that of the Senate President’s tended to be standard factory-produced executive office furniture. Furniture designed specifically for the suites were plain and minimal. Integrity with the building was achieved by the use of timber in the standard wood used throughout the building. The combination of this plain, utilitarian and unornamented furniture with the richly textured walls of the prime ministerial suite (many rooms were originally covered in a wool-based fabric now surviving only in the Cabinet ante-room and media room) made a strong but minimalist style statement. This ambiance was altered considerably by the Fraser-era decision to panel the walls of the Prime Minister’s office in timber, mimicking the previous office of the Prime Minister but using far cheaper materials.