Hungarian George Surtees (nee Szirtes) (born 1922) trained as a decorative artist at the Academy of Fine Arts, Budapest. After internment in a forced labour camp during World War II, he and his wife, Suzie, left Europe and arrived in Australia in 1950. With no English, Surtees found work designing commercial exhibitions and displays, before he set up his own practice designing furniture, interiors and graphics. He also worked for a period for P E Kafka Modern Exclusive Furniture, designing for residential, hotel and motel projects. In the early 1970s, working in his own practice, Surtees designed the interiors of John Saunders and Frank Lowy’s 300-room Boulevard Hotel on William Street, Sydney. His work is characterised by finely detailed joinery, linear geometric forms and decorative finishes, often with flourishes of the baroque. Surtees remained in practice until 2003.

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Posted by:Rebecca Hawcroft

Researcher of architecture and design history, Rebecca curated the 2017 Museum of Sydney exhibition The Moderns: European designers in Sydney and edited the book The Other Moderns (New South Press, 2017)

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