Neale Whitaker is much lovelier and less intimidating than I imagined and I think I may have offended him when I accused him of being “a bit Simon Cowell” during his time as a judge on The Block and homeMADE!
“I am a pretty honest person but I hope that if I’m critical then it’s constructive. I don’t believe in criticism for its own sake. As a judge you need to have an opinion and that opinion is always going to upset someone. I’m sure there was a backlash on social media sites – but I didn’t see it. Best not to look!”
He’s already working with Nine on The Block 2012 and is enjoying his new TV career. “I would happily do more if it came along and was the right project, but it’s a fine balancing act with my very full-time day job editing Belle.”
Neale agrees that the plethora of new renovating shows and their associated celebrities can only be good for the interior design industry. “I believe it’s actually renovation that people get excited about (design shows – even reality ones – attract very small audiences), but I guess the renovation process brings with it elements of interior design and decoration, even if people don’t realise that’s what they’re watching!”
Neale’s impressive publishing career in the UK and Australia (for the past 12 years) spans food and interiors magazines and both subjects are great passions of his. “I basically enjoy all the elements that constitute lifestyle – food, homes, design, fashion, travel. To me, everything is linked. I’ve had great fun editing food magazines in the past, in the UK and Australia, but at this stage in my career I’m very happy in the world of interior design.”
He’s even been a stylist himself in the past, but these days he prefers to leave that to the many talented stylists Australia has to offer (like Belle’s Steve Cordony). “My own home is genuinely eclectic. It’s honest, eccentric and full of things we love which are significant to us. It’s simply home. We live with two large and boisterous Weimaraners so there is nothing precious about our house.”
He won’t be drawn on his favourite stylists (suffice to say, there are many) but of course (as any good editor should) he believes his is the best interiors magazine on the Australian market. “I think Belle has a sense of humour, which is incredibly important. I also believe it’s hard to define our aesthetic – which is deliberate. We like to showcase many different styles across many genres, from total kitsch to absolute minimalism. If it’s a great example of its type, it goes in!”
What are the things people do in their homes which make him cringe? “Everyone’s home is their castle. Who am I to judge? Unless it’s a TV show! I don’t particularly like overhead lighting, carpets in bathrooms, curtains anywhere or handles on kitchen cupboards. But that’s my personal stuff and I don’t expect everyone else to comply! And I love orange, which is a colour that makes most people wince.”
Neale, who has written a couple of foodie books, also let slip that he’s considering adding an interiors book to his authoring credits. “Watch this space!”
Piece of furniture at home? “Cane-backed planters chairs by Australian designers Norman & Quaine.”
Aussie design blog? “Other than Interiors Addict?” (flattery will get you everywhere!)
Aussie furniture brand? “Jardan is doing some exciting stuff at the moment.”
Current interiors trend? “I’m not sure it’s a trend but I like the spirit of experimentation that exists now. It’s a very different landscape to when I arrived in Australia 12 years ago.”
david novak - piper says
Wow …. What a talented man ….
So many fingers in so many Pies ???????????
You gotta love a Bald man ………..
Love your work & writings Jen …..
Love …..Taylor …… ( thats my nome d’ plume )
Isn’t he just?! Thank yOu for your kind words 🙂
He is definitely an accomplished man. Thanks for sharing his interview with us Jen 🙂
Any chance you will be interviewing Shaynna Blaze??
It’s great to see Australians embracing their interiors and venturing ‘outside the square’