LIV­ING

Neale Whi­taker talks with the king of pat­tern, de­signer Greg Natale.

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - Neale Whi­taker is edi­tor-at-large of Vogue Liv­ing.

Iwon­der how na­tional trea­sures are cre­ated. Are they self-ap­pointed or does Can­berra de­cide? Or do they meta­mor­phose slowly, earn­ing our re­spect and af­fec­tion through their hard work and con­tri­bu­tion to the Aus­tralian story? If the lat­ter is the case – as I sus­pect it is – then in­te­rior de­signer Greg Natale might be adding the let­ters NT to his name quite soon.

Sydney-based Natale is one of our most recog­nis­able de­sign names. His trade­mark blend of pat­terns and geo­met­rics, retro and con­tem­po­rary, was show­cased in his book The Tai­lored In­te­rior (Hardie Grant, $70), which has so far sold more than 11,000 copies world­wide. There are his rug de­signs for Aus­tralian out­let De­signer Rugs; re­cent col­lab­o­ra­tions with re­tailer DOMO and French fur­ni­ture man­u­fac­turer Grange; Natale cush­ions, tow­els and bed­ding at Myer, David Jones and Do­mayne; tiles for Ter­a­nova and a range of wall­pa­per for Porter’s Paints.

I tell Natale “pro­lific” is the word that springs to mind. That makes the 43-year-old de­signer laugh. “Even in my Year 8 art class the teach­ers would al­ways tell me to stop. They said I was pro­duc­ing too much!” he says. The son of Ital­ian im­mi­grants (who re­mem­bers be­ing ob­sessed with Alexis Car­ring­ton aka Joan Collins’s apart­ment on ’80s TV se­ries Dy­nasty) has ob­vi­ously al­ways been an over­achiever. Chat­ting at the glam­orous Surry Hills HQ in Sydney (Joan would ap­prove) where he em­ploys 20 staff, Natale ad­mits that he likes get­ting older. This is a good time to be do­ing his thing. The mar­ket, he says, is start­ing to re­act against the long­stand­ing dom­i­nance of min­i­mal­ism. “My clients are get­ting ad­ven­tur­ous. They want bronze and brass in the kitchen and or­gan­ics along­side geo­met­rics. They want lay­ers.”

Min­i­mal­ism was never his schtick. “Pat­tern is in my DNA,” he says. “It’s an Ital­ian thing.” Life came full cir­cle for Natale this year at Mi­lan De­sign Week, when he launched a col­lec­tion of mo­saic tile de­signs for Ital­ian man­u­fac­turer Bisazza. And 2018 will see the pub­li­ca­tion of an­other book – this time for global pub­lisher Riz­zoli – and a col­lab­o­ra­tion with a ma­jor Euro­pean brand. There are plans for a fur­ni­ture, light­ing and ac­ces­sories range, and an e-com­merce site (greg­na­tale.com).

Natale might be play­ing on the world stage now, but his heart is still in Aus­tralia. He’s as ex­cited by a cur­rent project in Vic­to­ria’s Gee­long as he is by re­cent work in New York. And also by the im­mi­nent launch of a can­dle range in David Jones. “I’ve al­ways wanted to be a brand,” he says with a laugh.

NA­TIONAL TREA­SURE (clock­wise from top) de­signer Greg Natale; his mo­saic tile as part of the Bisazza col­lec­tion; one of Natale’s cre­ations for De­signer Rugs; a geo­met­ric rug by the de­signer.

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