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Podcast Episode 2: Fortune Favours The Brave with Greg Natale

The maverick maximalist discusses how to channel boldness in interior design

Jon Sharpe By Jon SharpeChief Creative Officer

When it comes to signature design style, award-winning interior designer Greg Natale is not renowned for his subtlety. In fact, he's celebrated for the exact opposite. The Sydney-based designer's interiors are colourful, patterned and always unexpected. Whether it's a combination of a cobalt blue tartan rug and Chinoiserie furniture in a seaside home, a floor lamp in the form of a lifesize horse standing guard in an entry hall or a pink moire mosaic bathroom, this maverick man fears nothing. As well as being a fearless creative, Greg has been awarded International Luxury Designer of the Year, has an ever-growing product collection and is the author of two books.

In this episode of The Tastemaker: A LuxDeco Podcast, entitled Fortune Favours The Brave, I spoke to the LuxDeco 100 designer about his unique style, where his design confidence comes from and his advice for being brave enough to own one's personal style, however bold that might be.

 

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[My style] really comes from what was going on in Sydney at the time. Everything was about the white box. And, look, I actually really love minimalism; I think it’s a beautiful style, but I did want to do something different. I wanted to stand out. And so I thought “what’s the opposite of a white box?” It’s a patterned box.

 

Don’t miss

  • Where the inspiration came for Greg’s instantly recognisable style at 08:23
  • Greg’s obsession for Dynasty at 10:39
  • His attitude to design regrets at 14:58
  • How to foster your own personal style at 23:37
Greg Natale | Bold Design | Interior Design Podcast | The Tastemaker

Image Credit: Greg Natale/Photography by Anson Smart

Links & Articles

Meet The Designer: Greg Natale

Top Australian Interior Designers

5 Dark & Moody Interior Design Ideas

12 Incredible Blue Living Room Ideas For A Colourful Space

Greg Natale | Bold Design | Interior Design Podcast | The Tastemaker

Image Credit: Greg Natale/Photography by Anson Smart

Best of Black & White Room Designs

7 Ways To Make a Statement In Your Living Room

LuxDeco 100

Greg’s website

Greg’s Instagram

Greg’s book, The Patterned Interior

Greg’s Sydney apartment

In the episode, Greg talks about his apartment's new look, including where his inspiration came from, what he loves about it and even the most tasteless thing in it.

Greg Natale Living Room | Red Living Room | The Luxurist | LuxDeco.com

Image Credit: Greg Natale/Photography by Anson Smart

Greg Natale Living Room | Red Living Room and Dining Room | The Luxurist | LuxDeco.com

Image Credit: Greg Natale/Photography by Anson Smart

 

For this home, I was inspired by Paris so I’ve used a lot of maroon. It’s eclectic so I’ve mixed the styles of Italian 70’s, vintage contemporary and also custom pieces. [And] I’ve used mixed metals which was inspired by the Studio 54 logo.

 

Greg Natale Kitchen | The Luxurist | LuxDeco.com

Image Credit: Greg Natale/Photography by Anson Smart

Greg’s sister Sarina’s apartment

Greg also reflects on his very first project—an apartment for his older sister Sarina—for which he won a Belle award and which catapulted him into the spotlight as Australia's go-to for bold interior design.

The Tastemaker | Fortune Favours The Brave with Greg Natale | Bold Interior Design | Patterned Wallpaper in Bedroom | LuxDeco.com

Image Credit: Greg Natale/Photography by Anson Smart

Episode Notes Exclusive: Dynasty's Alexis Carrington Colby's Office

Listen to the episode to hear why this iconic office set inspired Greg so much as an aspiring designer.

 

Interior Design Podcast with Greg Natale | Fortune Favours The Brave | The Tastemakers | LuxDeco.com.mp3 transcript powered by Sonix—easily convert your audio to text with Sonix.

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Jon:
Hello and welcome to The Tastemakers: A LuxDeco Podcast. I'm John Sharpe, your host and Chief Creative Officer for LuxDeco—the world's leading luxury interiors platform, which is changing the way people design and shop for their homes. Part of our commitment at LuxDeco is to help people live beautifully. In The Tastemakers, we do that by exploring interior design and lifestyle through the stories of our influential guests—guests who are celebrated for their fine taste in design and beyond. Subscribe and listen for inspiration straight from some of the world's most incredible style authorities.

Jon:
When it comes to signature design style, award-winning interior designer Greg Natale is not renowned for his subtlety. In fact, he's celebrated for the exact opposite. The Sydney-based designer's interiors are colourful, patterned and always unexpected. Whether it's a combination of a cobalt blue tartan rug and Chinoiserie furniture in a seaside home, a floor lamp in the form of a life-size horse, standing guard at an entry hall, or a pink moire mosaic bathroom, this maverick man fears nothing.

Jon:
As well as being a fearless creative, Greg has been awarded International Luxury Designer of the Year, has an ever-growing product collection and is the author of two books. In today's episode, Fortune Favours the Brave, I spoke to the designer about his unique style, where his design confidence comes from and his advice for being brave enough to own one's personal style, however bold that might be.

Jon:
Greg, welcome to the show. Thanks so much for being here.

Greg:
Oh, my pleasure, Jon, and thank you for having me and hello.

Jon:
So, I gave a short intro on you just just a moment ago, but your career and, arguably, your personality are almost too big to capture in a small intro. So why don't you begin by telling our listeners a little bit more about yourself and your journey into design. When did you first know that this was something that you wanted to do?

Greg:
Jon, I was a very lucky child that I knew what I wanted to do, from a very young age. So me being, you know, the—I like saying—the adult stuck in a child's body, at the age of 10, I knew that I wanted to do interior design. And it was actually for film and television. So I'd never necessarily wanted to be a set designer, but watching film and television, I realised that's what I wanted to do and, from the age of 10, that was it. Mum and dad, I'm going to be an interior designer. My mum and dad didn't even know what an interior designer was. And I started buying home magazines. I started buying local magazines like Belle Magazine and Vogue Living and Home Beautiful and from grade seven, I did I did art. I did technical drawing. By year 12, I was a fantastic drafter. And, you know, I majored in art and I went straight into interior design after school. It was you know, it was— I you know— I've been doing this since really the age of 10.

Jon:
And what were the differences between the interiors that you saw through the television and in the magazines you began to purchase and the interiors that you were surrounded with in your family and friends' houses growing up?

Greg:
So, the interiors I saw on television were theatrical. And I think that's where my love of theatre and drama comes from. The interiors I saw in the magazines were all black and white and pink and gray with pops of teal and pink, which was very Memphis. And I just loved it. And the interiors at home— My parents are Italian immigrants. So, in the late 70s, they built their dream house. So then the Natale house had a different pattern floor in each room and it was decorated in Baroque style furniture.

Jon:
Sounds quite a house.

Greg:
It was a house. And it's still around. It's still around. My mother still lives there. And I photographed one of the salons for the Patterned Interior [Greg's book], which I was really proud to do.

Jon:
So you're almost two decades in now. You founded your studio in 2001, and it's kind of hard to believe, having seen your portfolio grow into what it is now, but your first project was an act of nepotism—your sister's home.

Greg:
Yes. And look, and that's what usually happens with your first projects. You're lucky break, is usually your own home or a family or a family member's home. That's how usually a designer gets their lucky break at the beginning.

Jon:
And how key was that moment, if I may say so, of great trust that your sister appeared to put in you in the formation of your design style? And how liberating was it to be able to say, "I can design this space in any way I choose?"

Greg:
Look, I, I, I have still a lot of gratitude for my sister and I love her dearly. I suppose the brief did really come from Sarina because at the time this was probably conceived in around 1999 and it took a couple of years. And Sarina loves— and even in her house now she loves colour and pattern. She wears a lot of colour and pattern. And, at the time, Jon, Sydney was all about the white box. So everything was heavily inspired by John Pawson and David Chipperfield, who I still adore and love. And I do love minimalism. But Sarina wanted something that was more layered, something that had colour and something that had pattern. And so at that time, I discovered the archive of Florence Broadhurst, the iconic Australian Sydney-based wallpaper designer.

Greg:
And I went to Signature Prints who had her archive. And I'm actually about to launch a wallpaper range with Signature Prints any second now. And I went into the archive and I found this really beautiful, clean pattern that I customised. And then I had— I actually had come back from a trip from the U.K. and believe it or not, I was blown away at how beautiful and tasteful Buckingham Palace was. And I loved, you know, the whole coordinated idea of Buckingham [Palace], the whole coordinated look. And I loved the way it was all very cohesive. So I came up with this idea of having this coordinated interior. And it was also very inspired by the late and great English David Hicks. I loved the way he mixed clean and classic lines and overlaid them with all this amazing geometric pattern. So you could say it was very English inspired.

Jon:
Yeah, I think if you're being inspired by David Hicks and the Queen. You're pretty much hitting the English bullseye, aren't you?

Greg:
We are, aren't we? I look and and David— David did marry into, um, royalty.

Jon:
And you won your first award for that project, didn't you?

Greg:
Yes, I did. So it was it was the Wild Card Award from Belle magazine. So Belle magazine has their— Belle magazine, which is, you know, one of Australia's top magazines, every year they have a design awards. They still do it now. And they actually created this award for me because they they just couldn't— There was no box to really put me in, so that created this award for me, which was pretty amazing. And which I'm very proud to say, this apartment was published in Wallpaper* magazine as well.

Jon:
So that award was, I guess, really the first sort of sign to the rest of the world of what was to come with this new Australian style that you've come to be known for. You've explained that style as "one that is unafraid of the big notes, unapologetic and though bold in its approach, also considered, intricately layered and beautifully measured". Now, of course, this episode is all about bold design. But looking through your portfolio, it does seem to me that there's bold and then there's Greg Natale bold, and bold alone only seems to go halfway to describing your aesthetic. So what's the story behind that instantly recognisable look. Where did the inspiration for the unique style come from?

Greg:
It really comes from what was going on in Sydney at the time. Everything was about this white box. And I— I felt like if I can— And, look, Jon, I actually really love minimalism. I think it's a beautiful style. But I did want to do something different. I wanted to stand out. And so I thought, what's the opposite of a white box? It's a patterned box. So that's when I did start researching designers who pioneered that look like Gio Ponti, Verner Pantone and, of course, the late English David Hicks. So I did start looking at those guys and what I felt was so relevant is that they actually layered Mid-century minimalism with pattern. And I thought, well, maybe I can do that now. Maybe I could layer pattern over 90s minimalism.

Greg:
And, you know, at the time, everyone—my family and Sarina—trusted me. And, you know, her fiancé was a bit iffy at the time because, in the middle of doing the apartment, Sarina got engaged. But anyway, eventually we finished the apartment.

Jon:
I thought you were going to say that eventually they broke off the engagement due to the apartment.

Greg:
No! Not at all. They got married and they're happily married and they have, like, teenage kids now. But, you know, eventually they did let me finish off the apartment. But that's —a that's a whole other story.

Greg:
So I thought— I had this crazy idea. I thought, well, you know, if David and— David Hicks and Verner Pantone and and Gio Ponti did it in the— in the 60s and 70s, well, maybe I could do this in the— in the— in the noughties.

Greg:
So then, you know when I was pioneering— When I was pioneering this look, everyone was like, what are you doing? This is crazy. And I'm like— I just kept soldiering on. And then, you know, other people, you know, other, you know— Then it became a global style and then it exploded. And then, you know, it was known as the Hollywood Regency style. And then there was Kelly [Wearstler] in L.A. doing it. And, you know, Jonathan [Adler] in New York doing it. And it became this global— it became this global style. I didn't even know what Hollywood Regency was, to be honest, but I was happy to be, you know, sort of named the Hollywood Regency guy in Australia because it meant that the phone rang off the hook and I was able to build up the team and establish a look.

Jon:
And those are some very, very tasteful inspirations in terms of the likes of Pantone and Hicks. And you've also mentioned that obviously set design played a particularly important role, but there was arguably a slightly less tasteful influence. One 80s show, in particular, appears to have been responsible.

Greg:
Oh, Dynasty. Dynasty. Look, I— Look, I was you know— I have four older sisters and, you know, I had parents that worked.

Jon:
You were babysat by Dynasty.

Greg:
I was babysat by Dynasty, yes, I was. And look, I actually— And it was actually Alexis' office. That really was what— Alexis' office was one of the reasons that I wanted to become an interior designer. And if you look at her office now, it's still really tasteful. It's all cream. It's really clean. It's modern. And it just has this amazing statement tusk desk, which is all still very on-trend.

Jon:
So aside from perhaps channelling the unabashed self-assurance of such an iconic character like Alexis, where else do you think your design confidence came from? Because I guess that's a very different thing from style; it's about how you manage to kind of execute that style in an uncompromising fashion from the off.

Greg:
I don't know if it's being the youngest child, but look, as a child, I was very naturally confident. So I don't know if it's being the youngest of four daughters. I mean, four sisters who were always doting of little brother. And maybe it's— I think it's maybe growing up in a house that was there was a lot of unashamable pattern everywhere.

Jon:
And it's often said that "Some people are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them". And maybe the same is true for boldness. So, if that's the case, where do you think you fall along that continuum? Have you have you just always been— Do you think you were born bold? Do you think that actually there was some degree of nurture by your parents and your sisters that actually helped you achieve that boldness or did it come later?

Greg:
I think I was born bold because I really have always been this person. Like— As I said to you at the beginning of the, um, of our chat is that I felt like I was a child trapped in— I always felt I was an adult trapped in a child's body. So I really have always been this person. I've always— Even the way I dress, I've always dressed like the way I have since I was a child. I would always pick my clothes as a child. I wouldn't let my mother pick my clothes.

Greg:
And I think having an older sister who is a fashion designer helped and she's a lot older than me so there was always design magazines around. I think having a— a father that was a builder. So I had— I had this, you know— I've got this innate sense of construction from a really, really young age. So I think it's, yeah, I think it's a mash of a whole lot of different things that really make you. But as a child, I was— I was naturally confident as a child.

Jon:
And did you or others ever question your style?

Greg:
I suppose, Jon, I don't know. I thought— I thought, I dunno‚ I thought everyone was idiots and I was fabulous. Does that sound—

Jon:
Self-assured, I think, would be the polite term.

Greg:
Well, I don't know. Yeah, maybe. Maybe. Yeah.

Jon:
By the sound of it, your style from early was always as bold. How do you think it's evolved over time? More bold? Less bold? More considered? Less considered? What's been the evolution of your style?

Greg:
Look, I think definitely I like to keep the word— I like to keep the work tailored. I mean, look, that's why I called the first book, The Tailored Interior. I didn't want to go into pattern in the first book. So I like to keep it tailored. And I think— I think the keeping the work tailored a considered keeps the pattern... Probably, I would say.. I mean I dunno if you want to say tasteful? Or maybe keeps it considered. If that's the right word.

Greg:
And look, I'm always evolving, I'm always evolving. I think it's really important to evolve. I think that if you don't evolve, I think you become stale. And I think, you know, the audience becomes stale.

Greg:
And look, you know, I think style is more about fashion. I'm always looking at what's in the zeitgeist. What's coming up? And, you know, I look at my clients, you know, my actual client becomes a muse. The house is a muse. There's just a whole lot of stuff. But I'm always evolving. I mean, I think it's just my personality. I do like to keep evolving. I do like doing things differently.

Greg:
And when you look back, what are some of your boldest design choices? And would you say they paid off? And are there any that you wouldn't do again?

Greg:
I mean, we can even talk about my— like the apartment my partner and myself live in. It's it's become maroon and it's very bold. And it did actually start green so I wouldn't do that again.

Jon:
It definitely evolved?

Greg:
It definitely evolved because it started green and it was like, oh, God, this is not working at all. So it evolved. So, you know, the apartment's very bold. And it's you know— it has maroon glazed walls and it has maroon carpet. And it's very— This time this is very inspired by Paris because maroon is the color of Paris.

Greg:
But I think Sarina's first apartment with all— with all of the pattern. My first apartment that I was actually in English Elle Decor was all charcoal grey and charcoal grey. And it was very dramatic. And, you know, it was quite new. So, you know, I have made mistakes. I think you have to make mistakes.

Greg:
I think you do have to make mistakes. I think that if you don't make mistakes, I think you get stale. And, you know, that's how the— you know, our apartment did start as green. And it was— and it had a white sofa. And all my friends were saying, why are you doing a white sofa? You wear black jeans. It's not going to work. So you can imagine in three months a sofa was black.

Jon:
And your friends were proved right.

Greg:
They were right. So I'd say now I'm sticking to dark sofas. So, you know, I think you do have to make mistakes and I think it's not a bad thing to make mistakes. But, you know, you probably don't want to make mistakes on your clients' houses. You probably want to do them on your own projects. So with my own projects, maybe I am a bit more experimental.

Jon:
So for those listening at home or on their commute, who are thinking, well, bold interiors are great. I love bold interiors that I see on Insta, but how could one live with so much visual stimulation, day in, day out? What would you tell them? How would you how would you advise them to balance livability with bold, colourful pattern-saturated design?

Greg:
Look, I think how can one not live without it, really? And I don't know— I would, you know— For me, I want to come home and feel and experience something. So for me, it's more about a feeling and an experience. I want to— And that makes me feel good. So I want to come home and I want to feel good. And I also want to feel safe and warm. So it's more about, for me, this feeling of it. So, you know, I— You know, is the question is, like, how do you, like, actually how do you do it?

Jon:
I suppose to some extent. Look, I think the perfect reposte is actually how can you live without it? And that's very fair. But let's just say there's a listener who is just absolutely terrified of anything too bold, are there any places in the home where you think for most people, bold design choices can make the most sense or areas where they can experiment with greater freedom and they could have a greater success rate in channeling their inner Greg Natale?

Greg:
Even my most conservative client will always love— love using bold colour on rugs. They love using bold colour and cushions, and they love using bold colour and pattern on art. So I think that's three really easy areas that can be easily changed out later. But if you have— if you have the foundation that's neutral. And even, Jon, even if you look at our work, the foundation is always pretty neutral. You know, I usually you know, I usually have like a block colour— I usually have a block colour sofa and the curtains usually block colour. You know, wallpaper can be changed out. So, you know, if the foundation is classic and the foundation is block colour, you know, rugs— rugs and cushions wear out. You know, artwork— artwork never dates.

Greg:
So I think even the most conservative person, you know, likes a rug— patterned rug or, you know, bold cushions and art. I think they're the really three easy areas. They're the three easy areas where you can be bold. Another thing that is really easy to be bold [with] is blue, navy blue. I find even my most conservative clients— Because, you know, a lot of businessmen wear navy blue and navy blue is a conservative colour, but navy blue is a really great color to splash out and be bold.

Jon:
Almost a safe bold, isn't it?

Greg:
It is a safe bold. It's a safe bold because it could be masculine, it can be feminine.

Jon:
And it gives you that contrast.

Greg:
It does give you contrast so navy blue is a really great colour if you want to be bold.

Jon:
So it sounds like your, you know— you've talked about your love for minimalism as well as a number of other styles, and clearly, you're very open to people finding a style that works for them, whether that happens to be bold like yours or something more subtle. But whatever that is, what would your advice be for how people can really own their personal style, whatever that looks like to the individual?

Greg:
Look, I always— When I meet a new client, I— Look, I do look at their personal style. So I actually look at how they dress. And we just touched on it.

Greg:
You know, a lot of— You know, um, maybe a more conservative person or a businessman or something, you know, wears a lot of navy blue, so maybe navy blue can be brought out in your— in your interior. So, you know, I do wear— I do wear a lot of black and white. So, you know, I do like a lot of black and white interiors so the last apartment was all black and white and it was very much inspired [by] how I dressed. You know, this time, you know, at this time I looked at Paris and, you know, me and my partner fell in love with the maroon at Hôtel Costes.

Greg:
And I've always been— You know, for me personally— And, you know, and this is, you know, this is stuff I like and this is why I'm using this as an example. You know, as a teenager, I was— I thought that the Yves Saint-Laurent Opium bottle was really beautiful. You know, Halston? The fashion designer.

Jon:
Studio 54 and all the rest.

Greg:
Yeah. And, look, Studio 54 is another theme that I'm always continually exploring in my work. Halston, I'm totally obsessed by his interiors. His maroon coloured office. His grey house. You know, his minimalistic style. So there's, you know, there's all these different ideas that I'm bringing through my work in my own apartments. And it's really finding stuff that you love. I think that's what I'm trying to say. It's finding stuff that you love. You know, you might love— You know, you might wear navy blue or you might wear pink or you might love pink. So it's really bringing what you like into your interior. And I think that's— I think and I believe when you do that, then your interior doesn't date. I think by making it personal and not being so trend-driven— And you can look at trends; I love trends. You know, I know that pink and blush has been an on-trend colour for a long time, but I've used— I've been using pink in my work for 20 years because I think it's a really happy, poppy color. And I think it's good to be— I think it's fine to still be fashionable and see what's on-trend, but I think if you make it personal, things to not date.

Jon:
Is that— I suppose, finally in this section, is that the advice you would give to the listeners who would say that they're really still trying to figure out their personal style? Would you encourage them to go and look in their wardrobes, to look in the pages of fashion magazines, [Greg: 100%] to ask their friends what they think their style is? I mean, what— How would you suggest that people go about that?

Greg:
I get a— I get a lot of advice from my friends. I'm always asking my friends, what do you think of this? What do you think of that? My partner, I get a lot of advice from him. My staff. But, yeah, a hundred percent. Look at things you love. Is there a— is there an artwork in your house that you love? Can the artwork become the starting point? Is there a piece of furniture that you love and you can't live without? Does that become the starting point? You know, is this— is this coffee table, brass and Carrara marble, for example, or is it chrome? Can this become the starting point? The hardest thing—and I struggled with it as a design student— was always, where do you start?

Greg:
You know, where does, you know, where does the concept of— of your room start? So just by finding any starting point—if it's a painting, if it's, you know, your own personal style, if it's a painting, if it's an artwork or if it's a coffee table or a piece of furniture, is it for something you inherited from your parents... Just once, you have a starting point—

Jon:
So a keystone, basically.

Greg:
It's a keystone. And then once you have that, once you have that starting point then you build up a concept and, you know, the concept is a language and design is a language. And I think once you have a language, then everything else is pretty easy. And, look, I know— I know this is easy for me because I spent years at a university studying all this. But design really is a language. And once you have the language in your room or house or apartment, then you keep just going back to, OK, what is— what should I do? Well, you know, the metal should be chrome. Or, you know, my base is black and white. Or my base is, you know, neutral. Or, you know, my base is grey. So once you have— once you've set up this language, then it's easy to make the design decisions, but design really is a language. Design and architecture is all a language.

Jon:
So, Greg, we've heard about your style, now it's time to hear about your home life—

Greg:
All right.

Jon:
Which means we've arrived at the section of the show that we call How I Live—giving listeners an insight—.

Greg:
I love this.

Jon:
Well, we're going to give the listeners an insight into Greg Natale's home. So let's begin with where is home for you?

Jon:
So home is in Sydney, Australia. And I live in— I live in a suburb called Darlinghurst. And Darlinghurst is just on the fringe of the— of the downtown or the CBD or the downtown of Sydney. And it is also— and it is in the next suburb from my office and the office is in Surrey Hills. So I live— I live really close to to the office, which makes life easy.

Jon:
A dream commute.

Greg:
It is a dream commute.

Jon:
You've touched on this a little already, but how would you describe your home style?

Greg:
The home style is... I would say, very warm. It's— it's moody, it's masculine. For this home, as I said to you, I was inspired by Paris. So, you know, this time I've used a lot of maroon. I've mixed— It's eclectic, so I've mixed the styles of Italian 70s, vintage, contemporary and also custom pieces. I've used mixed metals, which is— which is inspired by the Studio 54 logo, which was silver and gold. So I didn't really have a rule, it either needs to be brass or metal. I think you can mix metals. With the maroon, I've actually used pops of navy blue and mustard. There is— the bathrooms and the kitchen's all quite light. And there's— of course, there's a bit of black in there because I love black.

Jon:
And it's good for the jeans.

Greg:
It is. Yes! Navy blue is perfect for the jeans. That's why I have a navy blue sofa now. And even the mustard chairs have a black fleck in there so the jeans don't stain it.

Jon:
Nice. Well, at least it's going to stop your friend saying, I told you so either.

Greg:
±I know. I spent months testing and sitting on different coloured mustard fabrics and, in the end, I found the tweed—I found this tweedy mustard fabric with a bit of black— and the black and the jeans don't stain it.

Jon:
People claim you're not practical, huh?

Greg:
I know— I am practical. I'm very practical when it comes to my clients' houses. And, but, you know, as I said, to you early on, I think it's good—you need to push yourself. And, you know, I did try a few different things and they didn't work, and, you know, I've come— where I've come now, I'm really, really super happy with.

Jon:
So what's been your most recent home purchase?

Greg:
Probably the last thing that I bought was a Frank Stella print. But the most recent purchase is— I did take a Gio Ponti vase from the shop [Greg's shop in Sydney].

Jon:
That sounds more like stealing.

Greg:
I have— I've stolen a Gio Ponti vase from the— from the shop. But yeah, the last purchase was the um, the Frank Stella print, which I'm really happy and proud of. And they're not easy to find. I spent— I spent years looking for one— for a Frank Stella print.

Jon:
And where did you hang that?

Greg:
It's hung in the dining room.

Jon:
So speaking of rooms, which room do you spend most of your time in?

Greg:
It's the lounge room. I do. It's my favorite room. I am— Look, I don't spend much time in the bedroom. I really only just go into the bedroom to sleep. My partner does. He like spending time in the bedroom and he likes watching TV in the bedroom. But my favorite is the navy blue sofa.

Jon:
And what's your favorite way to relax at home? Aside from the navy blue sofa.

Greg:
Look, believe it or not, I actually relax working.

Jon:
Good job by the sound of it.

Greg:
I know— Look, I know. I know. I do. I do. So, look, I do look like leaving the office at maybe seven o'clock or something. Or seven or eight. And I, look, I'll go home, I'll put on the TV, I'll put on the laptop, I'll catch up on emails. And, you know, I do like surfing the net and, you know, researching and, you know, I do like doing a few things at the same time. So I'll be watching TV, might be answering an email, I'll be researching and surfing the net.

Jon:
So it's either Attention Deficit Disorder or just incredibly good multitasking.

Greg:
I think it's a bit of both. I think— I think my Attention Deficit Disorder makes me a fantastic multitasker. And the— And my staff always comment how they've never met a better multitasker than me.

Jon:
So now on to the section that we call Who, What, Where and Why—some deeper questions, which we hope will reveal a little bit more about you.

Jon:
So let's begin with who. Who is your ultimate style inspiration?

Greg:
Probably, Halston.

Jon:
Was it a toss up between Halston and Alexis?

Greg:
I was actually going to say Jackie Onassis. Look, she had an amazing personal style. And I loved what she did to the— to the White House. It's a shame that the interiors aren't still around and she used Maison Jansen, which was, you know, the incredible chic French firm. And I loved all the bright block colour that she did to the White House. But I was thinking about Jackie Onassis. But I think probably Halston and, believe it or not, he's a minimalist, but I just love his interiors. I mean, you know, the clothes were beautiful. I just love his interiors. I'm always referencing his townhouse and I'm always referencing his offices.

Jon:
Okay. So what is the most defining single characteristic of your style?

Greg:
Probably pattern. I would say pattern. It's sort of like my— What would I say, my secret weapon or not so secret. Look, I— I wouldn't say that pattern is everything we do. And, you know, I don't want to be defined by pattern, but, you know, pattern is something that is in my DNA. And it definitely comes from the Natale house because my parents had pattern everywhere. So, you know, my earliest memory is pattern. And I think pattern, as I said, is— is my secret weapon, because, you know, it can help balance a room. It can help, you know— it can be where you can add the boldness in a rug or a cushion or even an artwork. And I think that pattern can help— What's the word? I think pattern can do a lot to a room.

Jon:
So why is living beautifully important to you?

Greg:
Well, you know, Jon, I— I think that you only live once, so why not live beautifully? And I think, you know, living beautifully can make you feel good. Part of living beautifully is having no clutter, so it— you know, makes me think clearly. I think. Why not? Why not live beautifully?

Jon:
So last, but by no means least, A Question of Taste—our quickfire round, where we ask you ten questions about taste.

Jon:
So first up, at what age did you have the worst taste?

Greg:
What age did you have the worst taste? I always— I always feel like— As I said to you before, I've been dressing myself since I can ever remember. I felt like I've always had good taste.

Jon:
I wonder if every one you know would agree.

Greg:
No, maybe they won't.

Jon:
It is a relative question as well, Greg, so there has to be a worst.

Greg:
When have I made a bad design?

Jon:
Or a fashion faux pas.

Greg:
I don't know what— what have I— I'm even trying to think of a fashion faux pas.

Jon:
You can go down in history as our first guest who just says, I have never had bad taste.

Greg:
I dunno. That sounds really— Does that— Does that sound very ego centric or, no, not egocentric?

Jon:
I think as we said, self-assured, Greg, self-assured.

Greg:
No. I don't know. I can't answer that question, Jon!

Jon:
Ok. Well this one should be easier for you. At what age will you have the best taste?

Greg:
I think you're born with it, Jon. I don't think it's a matter of age. I really think that you are born— Are you saying to me, personally, at what age should I have the best taste?

Jon:
At what age will you have— So projecting yourself in the future, you've mentioned your style has evolved.

Greg:
Well, I'm evolving so that I hope that my— But, um, I hope that my taste— I hope that my taste does get better. And it keeps evolving and, you know, my eye keeps being better trained by, you know, travel and my projects. And so I hope I just keep getting better.

Jon:
So what is the most tasteful object in your house?

Greg:
Well, I think everything's tasteful, Jon.

Jon:
"I've had good taste forever and everything is tasteful."

Greg:
No, what do I love? I think that everything is tasteful in my house. What's— Why don't I say what's my favorite— what's my favorite object in the apartment? I probably love the lights. I spend years finding two Scolari pendant lights and they're— they're brass and they're and they're chrome. They are almost like the glue of the apartment where they're the silver and the brass coming together. So I think I like— So maybe they're the most tasteful. I mean, one would claim mixing metals is not— is not tasteful, but they're my favorite anyway, Jon.

Jon:
And if it works to Studio 54, it can work for you, right?

Greg:
I still love that logo. The Studio 54 logo. They are very Studio 54.

Jon:
So you're probably going to tell me you can't answer this either, but what is the most tasteless object in your house?

Greg:
The most tasteless object?

Jon:
Come on. Who's smuggled in a tasteless present? What's your partner done?

Greg:
Oh, God, he would kill me if he heard this. This— He really— He— Well, he believes that I don't let him have anything in the apartment.

Jon:
What a strange belief!

Greg:
So I've— He bought— I know. So he bought— But he would kill me if he heard this. So there is a print. And it's actually quite a nice print. It actually works with our art collection. There's a print that he bought— a hand-painted print that he bought from a television show from the 90s that I wish I could put something else up there. That probably maybe is— It is the most tasteless. He would kill me if he had this— this podcast. His only thing that he's allowed to have in the apartment.

Jon:
Well, he may have a view on the second question. What's the most tasteless thing that you've ever worn?

Greg:
Oh, this goes back to the— This goes back to the last question. It depends what era. It really depends what era. I mean, you know, in the— in the early 90s, I used to wear a lot of Gianni Versace and I've started wearing it— I've started wearing it again.

Jon:
Versace Revival.

Greg:
Well, there's a big Versace revival now. So I've— I've started wearing it again. So I don't know, maybe there was a— maybe there was a time when that was considered tasteless, but I don't think it is.

Jon:
Good for you.

Greg:
I'm trying to think, what is the worst thing I've ever worn? I don't know, Jon.

Jon:
That's fine. That was a good answer.

Greg:
Again, it comes back to—

Jon:
The Versace's good. And you defended it strongly, which I like.

Greg:
I have— I have defended it strongly because I'm actually wearing it at the moment.

Jon:
Well, I would expect nothing less for this podcast. So, next question. What's the worst thing you've ever tasted?

Greg:
What's the worst thing I've ever tasted? That I've spent out of my mouth?

Jon:
Could be.

Greg:
What have I spat out of my mouth? Um. God, I remember— I remember the first time I tasted oysters, I spat it— when I was like a teenager, I spat it out of my mouth but now I love oysters. So I suppose everyone evolves. Maybe I would say oysters or seafood. Actually, as a kid, I hated seafood. I would spit it out of my mouth, but now I love it. So I suppose everything evolves, doesn't it?

Jon:
It does—design and taste it would appear.

Greg:
I'm loving these questions though. I am— I am loving these questions. Hilarious.

Jon:
Your chance to give our listeners a recommendation. Which restaurant serves the best tasting food?

Greg:
Oh, you know what? I love Cecconi's. I love Cecconi's. I love it anywhere. I love it if I go to L.A. or London or Berlin. It's my favorite restaurant in the world. I wish we had one in Sydney.

Jon:
Kind of posh comfort food, isn't it?

Greg:
It is. It really is. And it's Italian. And it's— it's what I grew up with.

Jon:
Which interior designer has the best taste?

Greg:
Look, I'd probably say the late English David Hicks. He's inspired so many other interior designers.

Jon:
What is the most tasteful historical period of design?

Greg:
This might sound controversial, but I would say the 70s. It's my— it's my favorite— It's my favorite period. And I think it's incredibly tasteful because, you know, in the late 70s, you know, there was all those really beautiful, clean, beautiful interiors. Yeah, the late 70s.

Jon:
What is the best taste you've ever acquired?

Greg:
Is taste more about style, do you think? Or, no, it's not, is it?

Jon:
Well, I think it could be. I think— I think people do acquire styles as they evolve and go through life. I mean, this could be anything from the aforementioned oysters, Negronis, styles, whatever you like.

Greg:
I would probably say appreciating traditional interiors, because I was really taught at uni as a modernist—and I am a modernist at heart—but now I really, really appreciate the traditional interiors. And I love going to Europe and visiting palaces and, you know, visiting all those old homes, so maybe— maybe it is— my appreciation of traditional.

Jon:
Well, that links interestingly to our next question. Which country, out of all those you've visited, has the best taste?

Greg:
Well, I'm going to say the U.K., of course.

Jon:
You're playing to the gallery with that one. We'll take it. We'll take it.

Greg:
I'm going to say the U.K.. No, I do love— I do love the U.K. and I love London and there's so many beautiful historical buildings. And you guys have such an amazing modern design style. And, you know, London is just a great city. I mean, you know, it's a capital.

Jon:
What is the number one crime against good taste that people commit in their homes?

Greg:
The feature walls.

Jon:
Good. Straight off the bat.

Greg:
Feature walls. And look— Of course, we, you know— we would do a feature wall, but, you know, the idea of "let's do a feature wall" is, yeah, that's my number one thing.

Jon:
When is bad taste actually good taste?

Greg:
It's when you've given it time to come back. And we spoke— we spoke about Versace. Versace is a great example. You know, it's taken about 20 years after poor Gianni Versace— his, well, his murder that, you know— And I think it usually takes maybe about twenty or twenty five years for a style to come back and be appreciated. So I think it's, you know, it's— it's when it's ready to come back. If that makes sense. You know, it's like— You know, it's like— you know, the 80s and, you know, the 90s is now having— You know, all the kids love the 90s and all the Gen Ys love the 90s in my office. So usually, you know, it takes about 20 years.

Jon:
And when is good taste actually bad taste?

Greg:
I think when it's overdone. I think when you overwork something.

Jon:
Who is your taste icon?

Jon:
Tom Ford. Look, I think that— I love his interiors. I think he's— his interiors are clean, they're masculine. I love his materiality he uses and, of course, you know, I love his clothes. His clothes are incredibly stylish. They're classic. You know, he's— You know, his work doesn't date and, you know— and I admire how he's built, you know, this— this empire. I mean, he probably is really— I don't know if it's the latest big fashion house that anyone's been able to build. And it's probably really hard to build them these days because, you know— You know, you've got all these big conglomerates controlling everything now, so, you know, it's— I think what he's able to do, what he's able to have done is pretty amazing.

Jon:
Finally, why does taste matter?

Greg:
I think taste matters because, as I said to you before, taste goes beyond style and tast goes into all your areas of life. It's how you live. It's how you dress. It's a sort of car you have. It's even how you think. So, you know, style— You know, style is something you can look at and, you know, emulate someone's style. And, you know, you see that in a magazine or this in a magazine, but I think taste is more of a way of life. And, you know, taste is, you know, it's more— it's a way of life. It's how, you know, you make decisions on what restaurants you go to or where you holiday or— Or, you know, how you dress.

Greg:
So I would say— it make— It's to me— So to answer that question quickly, it's a way of life.

Jon:
Greg, well done. Those are some tricky questions, but as to be expected, handled like a pro.

Greg:
Oh, thank you. Thanks, Jon.

Greg:
Can you tell us where people can find out more about you?

Greg:
Well, look, I have two books, so I've— So my first book, The Tailored Interior, and my second book, The Patterned Interior, which was which was release through Rizzoli 18 months ago and is still available. And also my website—you can see my projects and I also have an online store. And if you're ever in Sydney, come and visit my store where you can see my ever-expanding range of accessories and cushions and stuff.

Jon:
And we'll obviously also include some of the articles we've written about you previously in our online magazine, The Luxurist in the show notes.

Greg:
Thank you. Thank you.

Jon:
So, Greg, thank you again. Take care down there.

Greg:
Oh, that's awesome, Jon. Thank you. I loved your questions. They were fun.

Jon:
That wraps up this episode of The Tastemakers. Thanks for listening. If you'd like to be notified of new episodes, please subscribe. Wherever you get your podcasts and if you enjoy the show, please do write and review. You can discover related images, articles on products showing that at LuxDeco.com, where you can also shop over 150 of the world's finest design brands and subscribe to our online magazine, The Luxurist. I've been your host Jon Sharpe. You can follow me on Instagram @jonsharpe—that's J-O-N-S-H-A-R-P-E—and follow LuxDeco @luxdeco. I'll see you next time.

Jon:
Until then, live beautifully.

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