Neale Whi­taker: Out­door fur­ni­ture in­spired by our surf cul­ture


Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - NEWS - Neale Whi­taker is editor-in-chief of Vogue Liv­ing. Neale Whi­taker

There’s a lot to love about our new apart­ment. Like its waft­ing dis­tance from one of Syd­ney’s best sour­dough bak­eries and its walk-in wardrobes. But I’m most ex­cited about our gen­er­ous cov­ered deck, aka the out­door room.

It’s a sig­nif­i­cant tran­si­tion for me – I’m an English­man, af­ter all, and just as our homes are our cas­tles, our gar­dens are places to pot­ter and drink Pimm’s. But I think I’m fi­nally done with the planters and pots, the weed­ing and wa­ter­ing. I want so­fas and rugs, and down the track – dammit – a fire pit.

The out­door room is some­thing Aus­tralia can re­ally claim as its own. We in­vented it and no­body does it bet­ter. Jamie Durie played his part (re­mem­ber the TV show?), as have re­tail­ers like Do­mayne, and Gor­don and Su­san Tait, whose com­pany (made­by­ cel­e­brates its quar­ter-cen­tury next year. The Taits re­alised early on there was a gap in the mar­ket for out­door de­signs that could with­stand fierce Aussie sum­mers.

“Twenty-five years ago, out­door fur­ni­ture was just ta­bles, chairs, benches and a few lounges,” says cre­ative direc­tor Su­san Tait. “There weren’t many up­hol­stered pieces. Huge ad­vances in fab­ric tech­nol­ogy mean we can now de­sign with lots of colours and op­tions.”

Tait’s out­door range is man­u­fac­tured in Aus­tralia and the brand be­lieves in en­gag­ing lo­cal cre­ative tal­ent. De­sign­ers Adam Goodrum and Ross Gar­dam, and de­sign studio Daniel Emma, have all con­trib­uted. And new this sum­mer is Ti­dal, a range by Trent Jansen, in­spired by 1970s Aussie surf cul­ture.

Tait agrees no­body gets in­door/ out­door liv­ing quite like we do. That’s what at­tracted Cal­i­for­nia-based out­door fur­ni­ture brand JANUS et Cie to our shores in 2015. “All our fur­nish­ings are tested for harsh cli­mates,” says lo­cal sales man­ager Steve Liggett. “Jan­ice [Feld­man, com­pany founder] is known to place a

pro­to­type on her beach-house bal­cony to see how it holds up to the salt air.”

Dedece’s Tim En­ge­len shares Feld­man’s hands-on ap­proach. His com­pany brings the big guns of Euro­pean out­door fur­ni­ture – like the Paola Lenti range – to Aus­tralia. “I trust no­body,” he laughs, ad­mit­ting he tests fur­ni­ture on the roof of his Syd­ney show­room. “We have an en­vi­ron­ment like nowhere else and we’re very cau­tious when it comes to Euro­pean claims for out­door fur­ni­ture.

“Com­fort and shade are the next big things. It’s all about out­door liv­ing un­der cover.” That is mu­sic to my ears.

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