Sideboard, 'Linenfold', English limewood / metal / plastic, designed by Khai Liew, Adelaide, South Australia, 2007
Khai Liew (born 1952) is an Adelaide-based furniture designer/maker whose beautifully honed aesthetic draws on his Malaysian-Chinese background, his love of mid-century Danish furniture and his fascination for 19th-century Australian vernacular furniture. Born in Malaysia, Liew fled the country in the wake of the anti-Chinese riots in 1969 and in the mid 1970s established a business in Adelaide selling Australian colonial furniture. His knowledge of construction techniques developed during these years has had a direct impact on his design vocabulary and the importance he places on the interdependency of form and structure.
In 1997 Liew set up Khai Liew Design - a retail showroom and workshop with small-scale production assisted by a network of skilled craftspeople. He has since established a national and international clientele and completes one-off pieces for exhibition as well as commissioned site-specific designs. His work is included in the 'Freestyle' exhibition (Object Centre for Craft & Design) touring Australia in 2007. Liew's 2001 exhibition at the Adelaide JamFactory was widely acclaimed and his 2007 show, which includes the 'Linenfold' sideboard, reflects even more dramatically his particular skill at distilling a common aesthetic from seemingly disparate inspirational sources and creating minimal yet functional and evocative forms.
The 'Linenfold' sideboard subtly embodies the 'folding' principle that provides the show's conceptual framework and is a visually resolved and highly accomplished work by an important Australian designer at the height of his career. In addition to its contemporary relevance the piece substantially adds to the Museum's existing collection of sideboards which includes such significant examples as the Australian cedar pedestal sideboard, c.1820, the EW Godwin sideboard, England c.1875 and the Schulim Krimper sideboard, Melbourne c. 1955. 'Linenfold's' reductive contemporary design, its abstracted historical references and its collection relevance make it highly appropriate for the Powerhouse collection.
The 'Linenfold' cabinet was designed by Adelaide-based designer Khai Liew in 2007 and made by cabinetmakers working under his direction.
The sideboard was acquired from the exhibition 'Khai Liew: Tiersmen to Linenfold', which was exhibited at the JamFactory, Adelaide, South Australia, 2007.