Neale Whi­taker: The year in de­sign.


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

His­tory might record 2016 as an an­nus hor­ri­bilis, what with Brexit, Trump et al, but look­ing on the brighter side, it’s been a great year in de­sign.

I de­voted my first Stel­lar col­umn in Au­gust to Art Deco, one of 2016’s most im­por­tant style in­flu­ences – es­pe­cially in the guise of bold, geo­met­ric tiles, plush vel­vets and brass lamps with glass spheres, like those of Bri­tish de­signer Michael Anas­tas­si­ades.

The un­timely pass­ing of David Bowie in Jan­uary ush­ered in a tsunami of Ziggy Star­dust light­ning stripes, but on a broader level it reaf­firmed the 1970s as a po­tent source for fash­ion and in­te­rior de­sign.

It has also been a great year for wel­com­ing in­ter­na­tional de­sign­ers to our shores, like Ital­ian mae­stros Piero Lis­soni and Pa­trizia Moroso, and Bri­tain’s Tom Dixon and Matthew Wil­liamson, and a proud year, too, for Aus­tralian de­sign. Syd­ney-based Emma El­iz­a­beth and Tom Fere­day cor­ralled some of our best young tal­ent to form Lo­cal De­sign, the most im­pres­sive Aus­tralian pres­ence yet at April’s Mi­lan De­sign Week.

Morocco-ma­nia has held us in its grip, due largely to the phe­nom­e­non of the tribal rug. With global de­mand hav­ing surely ex­hausted sup­ply of the gen­uine ar­ti­cles, man­u­fac­tur­ers have been quick to repli­cate the style.

Not to be out­done by their pre­de­ces­sor, the 1980s came back to shake our hand, largely through a re­newed ap­pre­ci­a­tion of black and white (my money’s on a 2017 re­nais­sance for neo-classical tex­tiles pow­er­house Tim­ney Fowler), and a dusty pink shade that an ear­lier gen­er­a­tion knew as apri­cot. Love it or loathe it, the flesh-like tone has sur­faced ev­ery­where.

It’s been a good year for chloro­phyll, with sales of house plants boom­ing, the big­gest spike (ged­dit?) be­ing cacti. What I call soul­ful de­sign – de­sign­ing from the heart – has been best ex­em­pli­fied by Aussie de­sign­ers Anna Spiro and Si­bella Court, and while it doesn’t ex­actly trip off the tongue, the term “Japandi” has been whis­pered this year, ac­knowl­edg­ing the sym­bio­sis be­tween the Ja­panese aes­thetic and our ev­er­green favourite, Scandi de­sign.

Viewed from space, 2016 would have surely looked blue (in ev­ery shade from aqua to mid­night to Obama’s tie), while red didn’t get a look in. Sorry, Don­ald.

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