Boomers embrace housing design by Greg Natale

SYDNEY: Greg Natale one is of Australia’s most in-demand designers. With an innate talent for visual art, he’s strung together qualifications in both architecture and interior design.

As well as concurrently tackling scores of residential and commercial projects, Natale’s Sydney practice produces homewares including tiles, carpets, wallpaper and furniture.

Like his tailored interiors, these products are recognisably “by Greg Natale” – fearlessly displaying key themes of black and white (“so glamorous and polished”); bold patterning (“pattern in wallpapers and rugs is fundamental and where I start”); and colour (“block colour in sofas and furniture. And whereas an amateur will start with colour, it’s the last thing I do”).

Layering styles based on shapes and balances rather than similar vintages is another Natale approach. “There are no rules to it,” he says. “But eclecticism is not about throwing everything at a room. It’s picking three styles – say art deco, ’70s (hot right now), and modern – and putting them together to balance subtly and sublimely.”

Also an author, with one best-seller down and another pending, Natale, 42, is so busy you can only wonder how he does it. “I’ve just got a lot of energy,” he demurs. “I like to get things done.”

To add one more item to his to-do list, Natale is doing duty as a past winner and current expert jurist for the 2016 Interior Design Excellence Awards (IDEA). He recently cast his eye over the nearly 200 entries for the various categories and was pleased not only by the overall standard – “which is great!” – but by many entrants displaying “on-trend” features in inspired projects.

While not necessarily the winners (who will be announced in November) some of the most memorable projects for him were:

SJB Interiors’ Peninsula House on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula: “Very layered. I loved the use of the timber on walls and ceilings, which is very on-trend. The great bursts of burnt orange and mustards, and the mix of vintage and new furniture was cool. A really cool house.”

Natale also admired SJB’s “Pacific Lighthouse” at Bondi: “Awesome. A penthouse, it was obviously expensively done but, being so site specific, really suited where it was because it came out very relaxed and almost bohemian.”

Demonstrating how much residential style now influences retail – “just as commercial was influencing residential 10 years ago”, Natale picked out Hecker Guthrie’s Melbourne Pittella store fitout “that is restrained but with display that is built in, like pieces of furniture. It’s beautiful”.

With praise rising to terms such as “incredible”, he referred to Smart Design Studio’s extraordinary Chippendale house, Indigo Slam, that has already won the a 2016 NSW AIA residential award. “Look at the floors. Look at the brass fittings in the bathrooms. It could have come out so cold or like a space ship, but the extra layers so lifted it that it’s incredible.”

Coming from one named as one of the world’s most visionary designers, that is praise indeed!