Neale Whi­taker:

On how time­less de­signs serve you well.

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - TASSIE LIVING - Neale Whi­taker

Buy once and buy well” was an adage drummed into me many years ago when I worked in the fash­ion world. It was usu­ally an ex­cuse to splurge on a four-ply cash­mere sweater or a winc­ingly ex­pen­sive pair of loafers, but it’s ad­vice that has served me well.As a sen­ti­ment, how­ever, it seems cu­ri­ously at odds with our con­sumer-crazy (“buy, buy, BUY”) times. But oddly enough, the more throw­away so­ci­ety be­comes, the more we seem to value qual­ity – and longevity.

I re­cently in­vested in an in­ge­nious shelv­ing sys­tem de­signed in 1960.The de­sign has never changed and it looks as mod­ern now as it did the year The Bea­tles per­formed their first con­cert. The de­signer of my Vit­soe shelves, Di­eter Rams, be­lieved “truly sat­is­fied cus­tomers are those who buy less, of a bet­ter qual­ity, and use it for longer”. For sure they weren’t cheap, but I’ve got my shelves for life.And they look fan­tas­tic.

We’re cur­rently edit­ing Vogue Liv­ing’s 50th birth­day is­sue and one of our fea­tures cel­e­brates de­sign with stay­ing power. De­sign that looks as good to­day as it did when it was young – some­thing we all as­pire to. Whether it’s Pierre Jean­neret’s rat­tan-backed chairs or Gubi’s sin­u­ous Grasshop­per lamp, cur­rent in­te­ri­ors still rou­tinely ref­er­ence the clas­sics. Good de­sign tran­scends fash­ion and, yes, it is worth the in­vest­ment.

David Har­ri­son, ed­i­tor of De­sign Daily (de­signdaily.com.au), says: “A true clas­sic has pro­por­tions and form that re­main fresh for decades, even cen­turies. Some­times it’s the pure per­fec­tion of a shape, while other times it’s the in­no­va­tive use of ma­te­ri­als – do­ing some­thing no one else has ever done.”

The di­rec­tor of Syd­ney’s Mu­seum of Ap­plied Arts and Sci­ences, Dolla Mer­rillees, says, “The most suc­cess­ful de­signs are the most sim­ple,” adding that clas­sics don’t al­ways have to be his­tor­i­cal. She nom­i­nates Aus­tralian de­signer Charles Wil­son’s 1993 SW1 chair as a mod­ern clas­sic. “It has a ge­om­e­try that’s ab­so­lutely time­less.”

And what’s on my clas­sic playlist? I have an en­dur­ing love for the Togo chair (fur­ni­ture’s Shar-Pei), the Atollo lamp (the shape of the ’70s), bona fide Thonet chairs (repli­cas, be gone!) and Bub­ble lamps (think Ge­orge Nel­son, not Austin Pow­ers). And, of course, my shelves. Neale Whi­taker is ed­i­tor-in-chief of Vogue Liv­ing.

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