Multi-award-winning Australian interior designer and author Greg Natale is well-known for his exuberant designs and bold use of colour and pattern in the home. He sat down with us to talk fashion, luxe livability, and his dream of designing a space for Dua Lipa...
Describe your interior style in three words.
Tailored, patterned, layered.
What first inspired you to become a designer and what keeps you interested today?
Seeing the incredible fictional interiors of films and television shows when I was growing up was a huge inspiration – for a child who lived in the Sydney suburbs and hadn’t travelled much, they opened up new worlds to me and inspired me to create my own amazing spaces. As for today, I still get a thrill out of seeing an interior completed and photographed in all its beautiful detail, and I’m always excited by the prospect of new ventures – at the moment, designing a new collection of products is keeping me busy and inspired.
What’s been your career highlight so far, and can you tell us one of your future ambitions?
Winning Australia’s Belle Interior Designer of the Year award was pretty fabulous. I’m the only designer to have won the award twice, which is a huge honour. I recently opened my flagship store in Potts Point, Sydney, and I would love to see my stores open in London and New York in the future.
What’s your favourite design from your latest collection and why?
I love the Astoria throw (above left) – it’s brought together my passion for pattern, classic inspiration and hand-crafted design. The motif, which also features in my wallpaper and towel ranges, is from ancient Greek architecture but I love how it works so well in contemporary interiors. We’re working with an amazing mill in Peru to create these handmade throws. They’re super-soft and luxurious.
Where do you get inspiration from for your collections?
So much of the time I find that inspiration comes from the DNA of the interior projects themselves – such as the era of the place, the flow of light, the palette. I also find inspiration from travel – just walking the streets of a new city can provide ideas for a new rug pattern. Like everyone, I look forward to being able to travel again.
If you could see your designs in any space, where would it be and why?
I would love to design a space (residential or professional) for Dua Lipa – I am such a fan. Not only is she an incredible creative talent, she has such great personal style. She can sure rock a Versace piece, and this is a brand that’s close to my heart.
If you weren’t a designer, what would you be doing?
I think I’d be working in fashion design. I have always loved fashion, and designers Halston and Tom Ford are both inspirations of mine, with their sexy, sophisticated take on tailoring despite being decades apart. I like how the fashion industry releases two collections a year, and my product ranges follow that pattern.
Your signature style is described as ‘luxe livability’ – what does this mean and how can we achieve this in our own homes?
To me, it means creating an interior that is full of beautiful things but still warm and inviting, where everything has a place, and luxury comes from the considered layering of pieces to create a cocooning, comfortable space. Achieving it at home comes from a thoughtful approach to layering – building up those important elements of an interior, such as wallpaper, rugs, furniture, soft furnishings and the all-important last layer of accessories, to create a cohesive whole.
You’re known for your use of bold colours and geometric patterns, what tips do you have on introducing them into the home?
I think balance is always the key – introducing pops of colour or pattern on feature chairs or soft furnishings and countering that with larger neutral pieces; or, if you’re going for large areas of bold colour or pattern such as wallpaper, juxtaposing that with calmer tones or neutrals in the furniture.
Cushions are one of the easiest and most effective ways to introduce colour and pattern into an interior. I like to think in threes and recommend combining one cushion in a block colour or neutral with one in a geometric pattern and one in an organic pattern. Ensure the three are linked by a central colour or neutral and you have an attractive and cohesive arrangement.
Which room in your home is your favourite?
My dining room (above left), which brings together everything in my apartment that I love: artwork (my current favourite is on the wall here), bold colour (the rich maroon of the walls and matching carpet make it a sumptuous space), mixed metals and luxe finishes (the furniture and accessories provide a beautiful blend of textures and materials).
What’s your most treasured possession?
At the moment, it’s the Frank Stella artwork in the dining room. I love collecting art, particularly twentieth-century American works. The bold colours and strong lines of the Stella artwork stand out against the maroon walls and give me endless joy.
Can you share with us your top three home styling tips?
1. Considered layering – as I mentioned above, it’s building up the elements of an interior to form a cohesive whole: walls, windows and ceilings, furniture and soft furnishings, accessories and art. Break them down into separate layers but always remember the big picture, where each layer relates to the next.
2. Pattern doesn’t just mean wallpaper – not every pattern has to be bold or dominant. Cushions, rugs, throws and even towels are ways of introducing pattern in small doses to your home. There is also the subtlety of self-pattern, where a single-tone rug, fabric or wallpaper provides interest through its textural finish. And then there is panelling, which is a beautiful way to bring the pattern of line to walls and ceilings.
3. The importance of accessories – they make all the difference to a space, and grouping them to form little vignettes can transform a room. The power of three always works – for example, a vase, a bowl, a sculpture – while mixing heights, shapes and finishes gives the grouping energy.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Persevere – this applies to interior design and anything, really. In this industry, I’ve learnt to keep going and be flexible, to edit, adjust, and approach things from different angles. Not giving up is good advice for interior design and for life.
What does 2021 have in store for you and your brand?
Well, I’m very excited to be launching here – we’re big fans of AMARA at the Greg Natale Design Studio and spend some serious quality time shopping on the site. Back home in Sydney, I’m currently working on my next product range and about to start on my third book. Stay tuned!