Virgin experiences: Interview with Australian interior designer Greg Natale
In town for MAISON&OBJET ASIA 2016, Greg Natale brings to the panel his expertise in luxurious, decorated interiors with a pared-back Aussie mentality
Greg Natale's been a busy man. Just two weeks after returning from a trip to New Delhi, the interior designer found himself sitting in the Philippe Starck-designed lobby of The South Beach hotel, the morning after he landed in Singapore from his hometown of Sydney. The 42-year-old's in town to participate in a panel talk alongside hotelier Loh Lik Peng at M&O ASIA 2016, discussing on the topic of interior design in Australia. He's the right man for the job — as an independent company, Greg Natale has been in business for 15 years after working in design companies for five years. After the panel, he's scheduled to fly to Design Shanghai 2016, happening on 9 March... but not before checking out a few sites in Singapore. One from the list is the National Gallery Singapore, which he was particularly impressed with. Recognising similarities between Singapore and Australian cities such as Sydney and Brisbane, Natale laments that he's also keen on checking out Loh's Old Clare Hotel which is a minute away from his office in Surrey Hills, "a cool bit of Sydney". Before checking out what Singapore had to offer in the three days he's here, Natale shares a couple of throwbacks on his virgin experiences in design. On his first memories of design: "It's Italian. My parents built their dream house in the late '70s: A big five-storey home, ceramic tiles all through the house, all patterned. We had a green kitchen and beautiful patterned curtains. It was all inspired by the family home...it's just my earliest memories." On the first television and film shows which inspired him: "I was one of those kids who knew what they wanted to do from a really young age. From the age of 10, I wanted to be an interior designer. We didn't really travel much as a family, so I travelled through television. It was film sets that inspired me to do it. The Dynasty (1981-89) sets. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)was another movie. I'm a child of the '80s."
On his first business: "When I was 27, I started my own business. My mother said to me, "you're young", but she knew what I was like and I needed to be my own boss. I had a strong vision of what I wanted to do. It wasn't for the money; it was because I wanted creative freedom." On his first project as Greg Natale interior design: "It was a tiny apartment for my sister. It was 2001, and Sydney's style was hard-edged minimalism. Everything was white on white: There were no layers, no decoration, no curtains, no rugs. My sister didn't want that. She loves designer labels and expensive shoes, so she wanted something really rich. Being this young kid on the block, I needed to do something different. I discovered the works of the late David Hicks. In the '70s, he was the go-to designer, probably the greatest decorator who's ever lived. He layered clean and classic lines with geometric patterns. So I came up with this idea of using a print and it was by the late Florence Broadhurst, who was having this renaissance of her work. So I put the pattern everywhere: On the blinds, wallpaper, bedspreads... it was sort of very "Verner Panton meets David Hicks". I got the attention of the editors and set the DNA of the firm. I didn't charge my sister. She was actually doing me a favour. She let me have a lot of creative freedom.
On his first book, The Tailored Interior: "I've got a problem with Amazon. I'm always on Amazon buying books. I always wanted to do a book. The whole concept is that I tailor my client's dreams into their home, through my clients' lenses. The book does three things: It's a beautiful coffee table book, it's a reference book for interior designers and it's a how-to. It's packed with information. The structure of the book is set up in my process, and I reveal a lot of secrets in the book."
On his first hotel project,The Sebel Kirkton Park Hunter Valley: "I'm finishing my first hotel project as Greg Natale interior design. It's in the wine region, two hours out of Sydney. It's built around 1989 in a classic style, so we're totally recolouring it and redoing all the public spaces. It's going to be black, white and blue. I reckon it'll be ready to shoot in a couple of months." To purchase The Tailored Interior, click here. For more information on M&O ASIA 2016, click here.