A MILESTONE BIRTHDAY IS CELEBRATED WITH A STYLISH RETROSPECTIVE
Neale Whitaker steps back in time to celebrate a milestone birthday.
It’s Vogue Living’s 50th birthday and how do we choose to celebrate? By putting our head in the lion’s mouth – metaphorically, that is. Let me explain. The magazine’s special anniversary May/june issue includes our 50 favourite rooms – ever. Nothing too confronting there, although it’s fascinating to see how interior decorating styles have evolved over the years while remaining curiously similar. One particular room has a spiral concrete staircase, industrial vaulted ceilings, pops of brilliant orange, big slouchy sofas and luxurious Moroccan rugs. Everything about it screams 2017. Only the quality of the image (crude by today’s standards) is a clue to the year that room was photographed: 1973.
But so far, so uncontroversial – why the lion’s mouth? Because we also decided to choose the 50 most influential people in Australian design today (highly contentious, endlessly debatable, even we didn’t dare place them in numerical order) and – most audacious of all – 50 designs that have rocked Vogue Living’s world since 1967, the year the magazine was first published. To be fair, we relaxed the brief to allow for people, places, music and movies, but I guess that’s where we really threw down the gauntlet because design is ultimately personal. For example, sharing top spot on my list would be Jim Thompson’s klongside home in Bangkok (still my all-time favourite house) and Tom Dixon’s curvaceous S chair, aesthetically unsurpassed in my book.
We threw Vogue Living contributing editor and interior designer Jason Mowen the original challenge of sifting through five decades of design and culture, but the list took on a life of its own. Everyone had an opinion (Ziggy Stardust! Jeff Koons! Sydney Opera House!). Our Top 50 reads like a barometer of our times, and if all it does is make you think about what would have been on your list, then we nailed it.
Australia’s Marc Newson gets double honours for his iconic Lockheed lounge and lesser-known Embryo chair, both from the ’80s. Apple’s imac G3 – precursor to the iphone and ipad – is also on the list. And amid the era-defining chairs, lamps and tables, the Missonis and Magistrettis, we included punk (Vivienne Westwood) and disco (Studio 54).The late-’70s collision of those two worlds split the style atom. We haven’t stopped dancing yet.