If it wasn't blatantly obvious from his colour-saturated, pattern-rich spaces, LuxDeco 100 designer Greg Natale is no shrinking violet. His personal tastes are bold, his air equally so. The designer continues to be one of the design world's bravest, creating spaces which defy design rules, rev up the impact and make no excuses for out-and-out luxury.
On the other hand, Greg's candour and friendliness make him one of the easiest in the business to talk to (chalk it up to his Australian roots). In this previously recorded interview, the strong-visioned designer sat down with me at London's The Edition hotel to talk about his bold style, his diverse inspirations and what he’ll never do in an interior.
Greg, when it comes to creative influences, what inspires your work?
My inspirations come from many areas, particularly fashion, art and travel. I’ve always loved the seductive, timeless tailoring of fashion designers such as Halston and Tom Ford. There are many artists whose work I admire. I’m a fan of English artist Banksy’s graffiti and street art and, on the local front, Australian painter Scott Petrie’s bold splashes of colour and sculptor Dion Horstmans’ plays on light and shadow. Travel remains a constant inspiration for me, and I often find myself gathering ideas on my trips. Some of the designs for my recent rug and carpet collections arose from details I noticed on buildings or footpaths during my travels.
"I’ve always loved the seductive, timeless tailoring of fashion designers such as Halston and Tom Ford."
You're known for your bold spaces. What draws you to that confident-infused aesthetic?
Being a child that was inspired by set design, which led me to want to be an interior designer (I never necessarily wanted to be a set designer). And so these cinematic, dramatic and confident interiors have left a lasting impression on me. Today, I am drawn to interiors that are powerful and bold, which one could say are cinematic and confident-infused.
What was the first interior that you can remember leaving a lasting impact on you?
When I was 8, Alexis Carrington Colby’s office in “Dynasty” really blew me away. I loved the clean warm lines, the look was modern and the hero tusk desk really left a lasting impact and this was one of the reasons I became an interior designer. I also loved the corridor scene in “The Shining” as a teenager—the carpet has left a lasting impact on me.
Which design creatives have influenced your style?
The late English designer David Hicks and Danish designer Verner Panton have been major influences on my aesthetic, as have Modernist architects such as American Paul Rudolph and the late Australian legend Harry Seidler. Jonathan Adler and Kelly Wearstler are contemporary inspirations.
Can you describe your at-home style?
It’s contemporary and tailored with monochromes featuring strongly, highlighted by pops of pink and metallics. The effect is sophisticated and striking yet still warm, layered and liveable. It’s my haven.
What pieces can't you live without at home and why?
I always say a good sofa—a good quality sofa is an investment and it will last years. I also can’t live without art on walls. I think walls should be dressed and its this final layer that really helps finish off a room and can make the room look very cohesive.
You're fearless in your design choices but, for those less so, what are your top design tips?
Don’t start with a colour scheme in mind when planning an interior as you could limit your design—colour and pattern should be viewed as tools that add balance, contrast and interest to a room.
Don’t be afraid to fill a space with furniture. Large spaces require sizeable pieces and plenty of them to avoid looking empty and unfriendly. Small spaces still need all the key pieces that make a room liveable, only on a reduced scale.
Do use rugs and runners to anchor furniture, create ‘zones’ in open-plan spaces, and add warmth, colour and texture to a room or hallway.
"A beautifully made sofa will reward you for the time and money you invest in it."
What have been your career highlights so far?
My latest career highlight is opening my first flagship store in Sydney. The store is on the corner of an original Art Deco building and I painstakingly restored the shopfront and brought in the curves of the building into the décor, the interior walls are grey polished plaster and chrome which are a great neutral backdrop for my products.
What should people splurge on for the home?
A good sofa. It’s a large piece, it plays such an important role in your house and it’s not something you want to replace too often. A beautifully made sofa will reward you for the time and money you invest in it.
What does luxury at home mean to you?
Surrounding yourself with the pieces you love that mean something to you. Making sure those pieces connect so that the whole effect is cohesive and inviting. And having the time to enjoy them!
Five minutes with Greg
My favourite thing to buy for my home is… accessories.
The easiest effective design technique is… using a rug to add warmth, pattern, colour and interest to a room.
One thing I never do in an interior is… feature walls.
My biggest design peeve is… not putting enough furniture in a room.
My design mantra is… take risks.