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Gold Label Vintage

Mid Century Modern Australian Design at it's finest

Posted by Emma S on

Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting one of Sydney’s furniture design greats from the mid 20th Century, Mr Heinz Gerstl.

I was charmed to spend an hour or so with Heinz in our warehouse – he brought with him photos of various furniture pieces exhibited throughout the years as well as telling me of the history of his furniture company, his familys’ legacy as well as interesting snippets of other greats such as Harry Seidler and Paul Kafka.

In the course of my work, I am required to research various pieces of furniture and designers. When this Gerstl suite came to us, all I had to go on was a foil label inside the door of the sideboard that read: M. Gerstl, Commercial Rd, Rozelle… a starting point. So, as always, I hit google.

Let me tell you, this table and chairs is of the highest production quality of the time, so I knew that this was no ordinary furniture making company…. So I was surprised to find so little information or accolades online for the Gerstl company.

I did however find a website of an architecture firm, which happened to be Heinz’ son Mark, giving a brief history of the family’s involvement in furniture.

I was surprised to find no other real information on a designer who, to my mind, MUST have been one of the greats of the era, as Rose Seidler house has several Gerstl pieces.

Parker, Chiswell, TH Brown and the like have their place in furniture making of the era, however this piece that was sitting in our warehouse was of a manufacture and quality far above.

After I shot a message through to Mark Gerstl thinking that he may be interested in seeing a piece of his family’s history, Heinz himself contacted me and offered to visit.I was excited!

Heinz graciously talked me through the history of Gerstl furniture, from it’s beginnings in Europe with his Great-Great-Grandfather, and the Gerstl family’s move to Sydney after the war.

Michael, Heinz’ father set up the cabinetworks in Rozelle, Sydney soon after arriving and got to work. Heinz, as he says “has furniture in the blood” and my does he what? Heinz was very young, no more than a teenager when he designed the table that sits in our warehouse today.

Heinz brought many photographs of furniture that he designed through the years, and I tell you, I could have sat there all day and looked at those – I just wish they were in colour, so I could truly appreciate the use of timber veneers that his designs used to perfection.

My favourite piece from the photos was an amazing traymobile bar cart from the late 50s that Heinz designed for a furniture expo and mentioned that he still has today. Jealous, I am. We all know I love a good bar cart!

Heinz built the business, working hard on designs and quality, never wanting to be the cheapest and most prolific, but instead striving for excellence.During the mid 20th Century, his company was one of the “Go To” furniture makers for Harry Seidler and other prominent architects, being involved in many high profile fit outs both commercial and residential.

For the most part, all the furniture that came out of the Gerstl cabinetworks were designed by Heinz. They periodically employed other designers, however he was the driving force behind their design forward visions. In the blood indeed.

Heinz told me of his involvement with another furniture great whose pieces we know very well – Paul Kafka. I have had the pleasure over the years of selling many Kafka pieces and have a few in my own home.Paul Kafka just happens to be Heinz’ uncle and the two companies were in friendly competition for many years. Well there you go.

It’s a shame that the designs of Heinz Gerstl, along with George Korody and their ilk are often overlooked in the clamour for Parker and TH Brown.To be fair, Gerstl pieces do not come up very often, but once you have seen and appreciated the sheer quality of this furniture, it is difficult to go back.

It is a pleasure to have these pieces of very special furniture with us and to present them for sale. No actually, it is an honour.

  • Mid Century Modern Furniture
  • Mid Century Australian Design