Being named Belle Coco Republic Designer of the Year was a great start to 2011 for Greg Natale and it’s turning into a pretty huge year for him as he celebrates a decade of running his own business.
Known for his decorative style and use of pattern, Greg’s look is very different to the laid back aesthetic of many Australian interior designers and stylists. Perhaps not surprisingly his idols include Americans Jonathan Adler and Kelly Wearstler, both known for their high end glamour.
Having studied painting, architecture and interior design, Greg believes he has a more rounded view than many. “I think of design as the integration of architecture, design and decoration and I am very fulfilled when I decorate our own buildings. It is very important and satisfying for me to complete this process. The art background gives me an appreciation of the importance of art in interiors.”
Greg was delighted to be named 2011’s Interior Designer of the Year. “It was a great feeling to be recognised by my peers, I’ve had a great response from it.” And the fun doesn’t stop this year, buying a new home which he’s due to move into at Christmas, doubling the size of Greg Natale Design’s offices, celebrating 10 years in business and working on some exciting projects.
Like many Australian designers, Greg now has his own product range, a collaboration with Designer Rugs, which actually came about by a bit of luck. “In 2005, I won the lucky door prize at Corporate Culture for Saturday in Design which included a Designer Rug. As part of my prize I designed a repeat pattern rug which caught the eye of Yosi Tal (Designer Rugs co-founder) and then the rug collection was born.
“I am working on a broad loom carpet range for them and have other things in the pipeline. I think it’s a great thing when local companies can support Australian design. It happens all the time in the US and Europe and think it should happened way more here.”
Greg’s work has been photographed and featured in many a coffee table book and he’s currently looking for the right publisher to bring out his own. What with his recent guest spot on The Renovators, he thinks it’s finally time for interior designers to shine and get widespread attention and recognition for their art. “I think it’s fantastic and it’s supporting and promoting our industry. Fashion designers and chefs get so much attention for their talent; I think it’s interior designers’ turn now.”
His distinctive design philosophy incorporates the trinity of design, decoration and architecture. “I think it’s important to integrate all three to have cohesive and warm interiors. I think an architect can sometime lose the romance of a building in detail and a decorator can get caught up and forget about the concepts of design. If you can balance all three, you have a great project.”
While Greg is known for his striking decorative style, he’s flexible. “It changes all the time. I can totally swing both ways. I love minimal interiors but I also love decorative ones. You can’t always answer each brief with the same look. I would say I am a versatile designer. Our architectural style (Greg Natale has a residential architecture arm) is quite minimal and then I like to add a layer of decoration to bring in our clients’ personalities. I would call myself more Phillip Johnson than Mies van der Rohe.”
We all know everyday people without design knowledge can be afraid of using pattern in their homes. Greg advises: “Use it as a backdrop and not a feature wall. Stick with a theme and don’t try too much.” Likewise, knowing where to start with decorating a new home can be challenging. “It can be a piece of furniture and the starting point is the hardest part. For my new place, a pair of 80s lamps out of an estate in Beverly Hills was my starting point. For the apartment where I live now, it was black coffee tables I bought at auction.”
Greg’s new home will be a whole new look for him. “My current home is grey on grey with black, mink and pink accents, it’s very masculine and moody. The new place is going to be black and white with accents of camel and gold. It is much lighter with geometric, wall-to-wall carpet.”
He’s excited about his latest residential projects too: “A gorgeous bachelor pad in Elizabeth Bay, which is grey on grey and black with accents of teal, a family home in Bellevue Hill with classic lines, French deco influences and heaps of Jonathan Adler furniture, and a new architect-designed family home inspired by Paul Rudolph’s Florida homes.”
When he steps back and looks at the finished room, or home, Greg says the feeling is amazing. “I love when I can style a project, photograph it and have it featured. It gives me a lot of satisfaction when I can put the projects up on my website and in the press.”
He is an interior designer though, rather than an interior stylist, and he doesn’t style shoots for magazine editorial, only his own projects. “I am a trained interior designer and have done part of an architectural degree. The difference is an interior stylist works on shoots for editorial and advertising. I only do editorial for my own projects. An interior designer is basically an interior architect who works with structure, an interior decorator works on soft furnishings. I sort of do all three at different parts of the project.
“I never switch off and I’m always taking in new things, whether they are bad or good. I am always looking for new ideas and gaining knowledge.”