March 27th, 2012

Entries closing soon for the Belle/Coco Republic Interior Design Awards!

What do you mean you haven’t entered yet?! Don’t panic! You still have three days to work on that application. Entries close this Friday 30 March.

Celebrating and rewarding excellence in Australian interior design and decoration by individuals, partnerships and design practices at residential, commercial and corporate levels, these prestigious awards are committed to supporting the creativity and innovation of the Australian interior design industry.

For more details and an entry form, email belleawards@acpmagazines.com.au

Steve Cordony at Coco Design School

I was so excited to attend Steve Cordony’s session at Coco Republic Design School last week and he didn’t disappoint.

Steve is interior design editor at belle magazine and responsible for the styling behind those incredible, dramatic, often fantastical photos we devour on its pages each issue. He’s also in great demand as an event stylist, working with glamorous fashion brands, on private parties and more. It’s hard to believe someone so young (28) has such a stunning portfolio of work already. He’s also an incredibly nice guy (don’t you hate it when someone you admire turns out to be well, less than nice?!)

I learned a few interesting things about Steve last week. First, when he was a kid, he used to play a game (on his own!) which he called Renovation Rescue. He’d empty a room, taking all his parents’ furniture outside, then put it all back again and rearrange it. Cue often confused parents when they got home. One two three—Naaaaaw! These days the more sophisticated grown-up Steve is very influenced by fashion and I think it’s fair to say a little bit obsessed with Tom Ford. And candles!

His session was great because not only did he share tips, tricks and shopping destinations, he also gave hands-on demos, like bringing everything from his coffee table at home and arranging it in front of us to show us how it’s done. If you’re interested the contents of a super stylist’s coffee table include a Tom Ford candle, Becker Minty bowl, framed butterfly, Tom Ford (I did warn you!) book and, interestingly, a bonsai! I reckon he’s one of the only people who could make bonsais cool, but there we go. What I liked most was how down to earth Steve was. He gave realistic, affordable suggestions of things to buy and do in our own homes.

We were also let loose (ever heard the expression kid in a candy store?) in the Coco Republic showroom where he showed us a few different ways to make a bed. I do love that practical stuff!


He also told us something about bringing out our inner stylists, starting with the stylist’s toolkit:

  • Staple gun
  •  Tape
  •  Pins
  •  Sharpies
  •  Camera
  •  Sketchbook
  •  Laptop.

Then he advises building up your database. Where to start?

  • Break it up into categories (linen, floral, events, surfaces etc)
  • Go through the address books/stockists pages of homes magazines and start Googling
  •   Jump online and search websites and design blogs
  •  Visit shops, pick the product up and really get to know it.

Some of Steve’s favourite stores are:

  • Coco Republic
  •  Becker Minty
  • The Country Trader
  • Seasonal concepts
  • Drawing Room Theory
  • Your Display Gallery
  • Mitchell Road Auction House
  • Les Interieurs
  • Rust
  • MCM House
  • Ici et La
  • Orson & Blake
  • PAD Interiors
  • Quintessential DuckeggBLUE
  • Nicholas and Alistair
  • Scout House
  • Izzi and Popo

That’s enough to whet your styling appetite for one day. I’ll be back with more tomorrow…

Find out more about Coco Republic Design School and its courses here.

March 22nd, 2012

Belle’s Steve Cordony at Coco Republic Design School last night

I had the best time at Steve’s session at Coco Republic Design School last night. I’ve got so much to share with you over the new few days but for now, here’s a photo of us in the Coco showroom. For those of you who don’t know, Steve is the uber talented interior design editor for belle

Here’s Steve’s top ten styling essentials:

  • flowers
  • ornaments
  • found objects
  • throws
  • cushions
  • books
  • rugs
  • candles
  • vases/bowls/ceramics.

And you can read my interview with Steve from last year here.

February 10th, 2012

Home magazine readerships on the rise

B&T reports today that sales of home and lifestyle magazines have risen significantly. “Sales of Pacific Magazine’s Family Circle, Australian Home Beautiful, ACP’s Real Living, Australian House & Garden, Belle and NewsLifeMedia’s Country Style all rose significantly, while Express Publications’ Country Home Ideas jumped over 12%” Who said print is dead?!

December 20th, 2011

Steve Cordony’s favourite things

Yesterday, I published my interview with the lovely Steve Cordony, stylist and interior design editor at belle magazine. Today, he’s sharing a few of his favourite things with us…

Favourite colour?

I’m going to say black, but at the risk of sounding boring I’ll add peacock blue and yellow.

Favourite homewares store?

That’s like asking me to choose between family members! Can I get away with one each in Sydney and Melbourne? Becker Minty in Sydney and Nicholas and Alistair in Melbourne.

Favourite furniture purchase?

A 19th Century Italian side table with aged mirror top and brass legs from MCM House.

Your biggest indulgence?

Shoes, scented candles and eating out.

If money was no object you’d buy…

A vintage Louis Vuitton trunk (or two) to have at the end of my bed. Oh and maybe the Edwardian terrace at the end of Bourke Street, which I have renovated in my mind a thousand times over.

Replica furniture? Yes/no/sometimes?

I think replica furniture has its place, but personally I think there are some great Australian designers and companies who produce original designs with the same price point as the copied international designs, which for me, is far more unique.

December 19th, 2011

Meet belle magazine stylist Steve Cordony

An interior decorator mother, a stint as an assistant and a first break from Neale Whitaker have all contributed to Steve Cordony’s successful career as a stylist.

“From a young age I was always interested in making things look good,” he says. “My mother was an interior decorator and owned a homewares store so I was always surrounded by decorative things. Once I started my interior design course (at Enmore Design Centre) and became more aware of the industry, I knew being a stylist was what I wanted to do. I was heavily into performing and creative arts growing up so either way it was going to be something artistic, but I feel like being a stylist combines all my passions and I get to create theatrical sets and events that I can relive by flicking through the pages of a magazine.”

Steve, 27, is the interior design editor at belle. Back in 2006, he was a runner up in the magazine’s young interior designer of the year award. He submitted his final project; a proposal for the redevelopment of Carriageworks in Sydney. “I flew down to Melbourne for the awards where I met Neale Whitaker (belle editor in chief) who gave me a foot in the door to the world of styling and publishing.”

He did his time as an assistant though, and encourages any aspiring stylist to do the same. He was assisting Imogen Naylor, previous interior design editor at belle, the job he now calls his own.“I had no idea how much was involved in creating these beautiful pages. I remember the very first time I assisted I turned up in flashy shoes, a blazer and jeans – now when I shoot it’s joggers, a t-shirt and shorts! Conceptualising, sourcing and propping is one thing but logistics and production is another. I definitely think starting out assisting to observe and learn is the best way, even if it is packing and unpacking boxes.” While Steve says Imogen was the best mentor anyone could have asked for, he also admires Sibella Court, Megan Morton and many other Aussie stylists.

Steve describes his signature style as bold, theatrical and emotive. “It definitely has changed and I hope it continues to change as I grow and experience new things. Every now and then you move with trends and try new things and but I like to think the foundation stays the same.”

Steve’s styling career saw him start out assisting, progressing into a freelance contributing design editor role producing design news, events and topical focus pages for belle. In 2010, he acted as interior design editor while Imogen was on maternity leave and this year took up the position permanently. “As the interior design editor, I style the interior trend pages, source the latest products, produce events and style homes featured in the magazine,” he says. “Being able to come up with an idea and then source amazing furniture and accessories from any shop, find props and then see it come to life in studio is the best part.

“The hardest part would be logistics. When things don’t turn up on time, or not at all, or when you can’t physically fit the four-seater Poltrona Frau sofa in the goods lift and you have to completely redesign the shoot, that’s not fun.”

Steve’s freelance clients are many, varied and impressive. “Working with Myer producing the home pages for Emporium magazine is great fun. I also work closely with L’Oreal Luxe who have some major brands including Maison Martin Margiela, Ralph Lauren and Yves Saint Laurent who I style events for, a standout being the winter makeup launch for YSL earlier this year. Styling the Gourmet Traveller Restaurant of the Year awards at Guillaume at Benelong was also a highlight. I’m looking forward to working with the fabulous team at Waterford Wedgwood on some exciting projects next year.”

It’s clear Steve is passionate about his work at belle, where the small team put a lot of time and effort into every shoot. “We work really hard to showcase the latest and greatest design, new stores, upcoming trends and travel. It is definitely aspirational but full of practical information.”

Steve lives in the St Margaret’s complex in Surry Hills, a beautiful art deco building. “The interior is quite contemporary with mirrored panelling, grey walls and travertine finishes but with original oversize timber doors and windows, which lead out to a great terrace with city views. The furniture is pretty neutral, which allows me to change the accessories and soft furnishings which I am constantly doing as I get bored quiet easily! I think that is the best way to keep interiors interesting, unless you have an open cheque book, by moving and changing small items or even adding great floral installations using succulents and beautiful greenery which last longer than fresh cut flowers.”

Tomorrow, read more about Steve’s favourite things.

November 21st, 2011

Greg Natale celebrates a decade in business

Belle Coco Republic Interior Designer of the Year 2011 Greg Natale is celebrating ten years of running his own business this week. What a year it’s been for Greg! Not only winning the top accolade, but a collaboration with Designer Rugs and an anniversary too. Congratulations to Greg, who I recently had the pleasure of meeting.

I asked him ten questions for ten years of Greg Natale Design and he kindly gave Interiors Addict readers an exclusive sneak peek behind the scenes of his latest project.

1. Tell me about how you got into the industry 10 years ago? I started Greg Natale Design after working for various design firms in Sydney for five years. I spent those years cutting my teeth in residential, retail and commercial firms. I decided to start Greg Natale becouse I had a clear vision of what I wanted to produce. I basically got to a point where I needed creative freedom and I am creative person so this is my outlet for expressing myself.

2. What was the interior design industry like then? I would say in the 19 years since I started my deisgn course, the general public has become a lot more design savvy and they see the value in design now. Apple really sums this up perfectly. In the last ten years the big difference has been the shift of moving from minimalism, the industry was entrenched in it. Don’t get me wrong, I love minimalism but it’s not right for every brief. So eclecticism become all the rage in the noughties.

3. What are the main differences these days? We really are now in the age of decoration where pattern, colour and personality are no longer dirty words. Minimalism is still very strong but it has more layers and contrast.

4. How does it feel to have been in business for a decade? It feels great, I am so happy to have survived! I have had an amazing decade and worked with a great team, great clients and amazing editors.

5. What have been the biggest challenges? At the beginning it was building a portfolio and understanding the business side of running a design firm, then the crash of 2008! It really affected commercial work but I have always kept the work varied and residential work has been strong.

6. What are you most proud of? Our large portfoilio of work, our collaboration with Designer Rugs and winning 2011 Belle Coco Republic Designer of the year which rounds off the year perfectly.

7. Has your style changed? How? Ten years ago I was already shifting to decoration but it will continue to change and evolve. My style now is richer and more layered. I think is down to what’s in vogue, bigger budgets and maturity.

8. What’s next for Greg Natale Design? A bigger office, a furniture range and a carpet range. I really want to do a fabric range and a hotel to bring everything together!

9. What do you think about all these home renovation/design shows? I think they’re great! As I have said to you before, more over celebrity chefs and fashion designers! It’s happening in the USA where interior designers like Kelly Wearstler and Jonathan Adler have crossed into the mainstream

10. Do you think the general public is much more interested in, and capable of, creating a stylish home these days? For sure. The general public sees the value in design now so they buy great books and do research on great blogs like yours. The internet really has helped all of us become become more design savvy. It’s so easy for everyone to research now.


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November 16th, 2011

Say no to fake designer furniture!

Everyone’s entitled to their opinion and it’s not my place to say who is right or wrong, but I’m keen to publish a variety of views on this subject. Anne-Maree Sargeant has a vehemently anti-replica stance. As editor at large of belle magazine, creator of design blog The Snap Assembly and someone who helped set up Space Furniture for founder Kevin Jarrett, she knows a thing or two about design and what goes into producing original furniture. But she argues it is everyone’s responsilbity to be informed about what they’re buying and how ethical, environmentally friendly and fair it really is. I asked AMS a few questions on the topic and here’s what she had to say…


What do you think of the recent Herman Miller v Matt Blatt court case and the eventual outcome being settled out of court? Satisfactory? A triumph for designers?
It’s a small, very positive step to a much larger argument! Design registration is an expensive and complex process, with laws differing from country to country. The Danes protect a design for around 70 years and brands like Friz Hansen are as litigious as Herman Miller. Similarly, Italian design vanguard Cassina won a court battle with a hotel which had originals in the foyers and fakes/copies elsewhere. There are so many variables there is not a quick answer but the simplest understanding is a designer has to design register their work in each country to protect it. Even the big name manufacturers can’t afford to do this, let alone designers.
Why is replica furniture wrong?
Copying an original design denies the designer their royalty: the payment for their original idea. ‘Replica’ is taking the soft line. With a handbag it’s genuine or real vs fake/a copy/not real. Similarly, furniture and lighting that are not authorised should be labelled fake. Consumers have no knowledge of the working conditions, workers’ exposure to toxins, use of unethical and environmentally damaging materials and processes. You get what you pay for, so the products don’t last (ask anyone who’s broken a fake Philippe Starck designed ‘Ghost’ chair or a fake Arne Jacobsen designed ‘Series 7’ chair) generating landfill, not objects of desire that are passed through generations.
Does it it makes a difference if the designer is still living and why?
Of course it doesn’t. Copying a design is stealing IP. A real Picasso leaves a fake Picasso for dead. As with the Picasso Foundation, established to promote the great master’s work, famous designers have bodies to protect their design IP. Herman Miller are committed to authenticity, irrespective of the designer still being alive.
Is well designed furniture only for the wealthy?
Assuming good design is expensive is an oxymoron! In the case of Cassina Maestri who are authorised to produce Le Corbusier’s furniture, the brand embark on a process. They pay a fee to the foundation as well as a royalty for each piece sold, working closely with the foundation to ensure the execution is of the highest standard. There are vast costs involved with tooling for manufacturing, ultimately the big spend prior to the product getting to market, which is reflected in the selling price.
Where can everyday people buy original, affordable designs?
Join, Keith Melbourne’s new set of glass-inspired utility tables, there’s loads of great affordable design. Then there’s auctions and markets. I recently scored a Cassina SuperLegeria for $200 ($1,200 at Space), a Castiglione designed set of Zanotta tractor stools (less than half price) and my favourite Vico Magistretti kitchen stool (all for less than the price of a fake) at auctions.
There have always been copies, of handbags, fashion etc. Is this any different?
Every industry is different, some are highly regulated, others not. The music industry takes the hard line with copyright - the recent case of Men at Work losing to the licensee of The Kookaburra Song is a good example. As a writer, I have control over my IP and sign copyright according to usage. The fashion industry is a law unto itself (read Dana Thomas’ How Luxury Lost Its Lustre, a MUST-read for anyone pro unregulated manufacturing. It makes you vote with your wallet when you learn about children locked in factories, their legs tied to prevent them leaving…
Do you think your design background puts you in a better position to comment?
I studied interior design (RMIT) and later spent many years running Space Furniture, which I helped start for the founder Kevin Jarrett, so I guess 20 years of working with the top rung factories and being a design journalist for that duration perhaps gives a bit of knowledge. But anyone can be informed. It’s personal preference to be informed. The same as knowing if the tinned tuna one buys is sustainable or if the brand pursues overfished species, pushing them to extinction.
Interiors magazines feature replica furniture all the time. Do you think they are setting a bad example or bowing to popular culture?
That’s an entirely different conversation that I am not qualified to answer, although I can commit to only promoting/reporting on original work.
Any final food for thought?
Be original, stop following trends, buy vintage or at auctions or garage sales if you’re on a budget, be informed and spend ethically.

The Snap Assembly is on Facebook.
Photo copyright Sonny Vandevelde, Sonny Photos
November 8th, 2011

Interview: Neale Whitaker, editor of belle and judge on The Block and homeMADE

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!”

NEALE’S FAVOURITES

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.”