NEXT: OUR ASIAN LOOK

The Australian - The Deal - - Trends | People | Events -

From coloni­sa­tion un­til the mid­dle of the 20th cen­tury, Aus­tralian so­ci­ety and cul­ture was both formed and de­ter­mined by the fact that we were a British out­post. Tweed and tea ruled. There was even an Aus­tralian aris­toc­racy of sorts, best ex­em­pli­fied by the squat­toc­racy. Hous­ing was de­cid­edly English, but with an An­tipodean twist – block- square Ge­or­gian home­steads were sur­rounded by a sun- shad­ing ve­randa. Aus­tralian food was framed by our English, Ir­ish and Scot­tish her­itage – meat and three veg, in­clud­ing potato. How­ever, as the eth­nic mix of the na­tion be­gan to shift later in the cen­tury, with the com­ing of Mediter­ranean in­flu­ences, the Aus­tralian sense of de­sign and style changed. Our ur­ban cul­ture, es­pe­cially, be­came more cos­mopoli­tan and so­phis­ti­cated. Hous­ing de­sign shifted from 1980s fussy to 1990s min­i­mal­ism. Ur­ban Aus­tralians started to dress in black. Food and wine has be­come so im­por­tant that restau­rants and cook­ing are now pop­u­larly viewed as en­gag­ing in an art form. Bits of cen­tral Mel­bourne and Sydney took on a dis­tinc­tive Mi­lanesque look. Our col­lec­tive sense of de­sign changed: We ab­sorbed the best Mediter­ranean in­flu­ences and es­chewed the drabbest parts of English cul­ture, such as food and, pos­si­bly, fash­ion. The ques­tion I have is this: If the Aus­tralian eth­nic com­po­si­tion is chang­ing to in­clude more Asian, and es­pe­cially Chi­nese and In­dian in­flu­ences, why wouldn’t there be a con­se­quen­tial shift in Aus­tralian style by the end of this decade? I have no idea how the up­per mid­dle class lives in Shang­hai or Mum­bai, but I sus­pect that Aus­tralian cul­ture, be­ing as spongy as it is, will ab­sorb the best bits very quickly. If you’re in the fash­ion, food or de­sign in­dus­tries, I’d sug­gest a week or two in Shang­hai sim­ply to ob­serve what’s hot and then look for ways to Aus­tralianise these trends. That’s the way to stay just ahead of the de­sign curve in the 2010s.

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