The Wunderlich company, founded by Ernest Wunderlich in 1885, created a significant impact on the nature and style of private and public buildings in Australia.
The first decorative panels sold in Sydney and were imported from Germany and designed by Mr. F. Peters of Berlin. The initial success of installations in such buildings as the Colonial Secretary's Building in Macquarie Street and the Beale's and Paling's piano showrooms in George Street, Sydney, encouraged Wunderlich to patent this new form of ceiling and look for further contracts.
Ernest Wunderlich, now joined by his brother Alfred in the business, was intensely musical and this made them aware of the acoustic advantages of their metal ceilings. They convinced the Sydney City Council to use their product for the projected "Centennial Hall".
Ernest wrote: "The present Town Hall, at first named the Centennial Hall, was completed about 1889. It was never designed as a concert hall, and the immense organ must have been an afterthought, because the architects had specified an elaborate plaster ceiling with console and pendentives, that certainly would have fallen on the audiences as soon as the 64ft lower C pipe sounded. After a long canvass of mayor and aldermen, I induced the City Council to substitute stamped zinc for the ceiling and all its decorations."
The Wunderlich company's work on the Sydney Town Hall was an enormous success and by the time their 1899 Catalogue was produced, it credited the company with an enormous list of achievements.15 hospitals and asylums, 14 law courts, 11 public offices and buildings, 5 schools, 8 theaters, 27 insurance offices and other commercial buildings, 35 warehouses and showrooms, 11 municipal buildings, 11 museums and libraries, 10 miscellaneous public buildings and railway stations, 9 churches, 20 banks, 41 hotels and over 150 private residences!
Wunderlich panels were produced until the 1950s when the effect of the two World Wars and changing tastes finally secured the demise of this very special decorative product.
The Genesis of Wunderlite
Following World War II and the advent of "modern" materials and designs, Wunderlich and the other manufacturers expanded into different areas of the building and plumbing trades and pressed metal panels were no longer produced in Australia.
Wunderlite Reproduction panels was formed and started producing aluminium ceiling panels in 1983.
Partners, Sue Stewart and Sandy McDowell, recognised an emerging market for period fixtures and fittings as home renovators and businesses grew more conscious of Australian architectural history and sought to preserve and restore pressed metal ceilings in private dwellings and public buildings.
Wunderlite now makes a range of copies of the original designs in .5mm conversion coated aluminium and Galvanised Iron. Dies for new patterns can be made to customer specifications and can reproduce any of the original designs for which samples, or even just photos, are available. Custom designs are also achievable through CAD and CNC machining.
Wunderlite is now well known amongst architects, builders and government institutions involved in heritage restoration projects. Over the years it has contracted to supply, and often also to install, reproduction designs into most of the major restoration projects carried out in the Country.
For domestic installations the sheet is very easily installed by a competent carpenter, builder or handyman and in these cases, we are very happy to provide fixing instructions and advice over the phone.