MARTYN THOMPSON

Prince st MT portrait 2 06.2016.jpg

Australian photographer Martyn Thompson is well known for his enigmatic imagery which has appeared in style bibles including Elle Decoration, Vogue and Architectural Digest. Now a native New Yorker, he has turned his eye to designing esoteric fabrics for the home. We go behind the lens to see what makes him tick...

BY DEE IVA

What prompted you to start designing textiles?
I’ve always loved textiles. Thirty years ago I was painting fabrics, making them into clothes and selling them in a small shop in Sydney. I began taking pictures of them and my photography career was born out of that – it took over. So coming back to fabric isn't a total stretch. I had started exploring new ways to reproduce my photos and discovered the digitised jacquard loom. Although a little suspicious of the first results I soon fell in love – there’s a depth to the tapestry-like weave that speaks to the tactility I search for in my photos. I realised the potential for interior fabrics and began to develop the idea.

Tell us about your new 'Rock Pool' textile collection.
I was in Limeni on the Mani Peninsula of Greece on an editorial assignment. Standing at the end of a jetty staring at the rocks in the water below, I saw all these colours – amazing – like a painter's palette – dancing on the surface. I took a small cart load of photos and these became the basis for the 'Rock Pool' collection.

ABOVE AND ABOVE RIGHT: Martyn Thompson in his Manhattan studio
BELOW FROM TOP: Thompson's watery 'Rock Pool' design can be used to upholster walls as well as furniture. The chair is covered in a mix of 'Whitewash' and 'Painted Galaxy'; A range of Thompson's earlier designs including 'The Accidental Expressionist' and 'Melting' are used to cover these cushions; 'Ripple' from the 'Rock Pool' collection covers the wall, the small sofa is upholstered in 'Blotch' from the 'Accidental Expressionist' collection

Does your photography inform your designs?
It’s very literally an extension of it. Each of the fabrics begins as one of my photographs before we edit and develop the image into a repeat pattern. My photography has always been very much about a certain quality of light and a particular muted colour palette. Happily these qualities translate beautifully to the jacquard loom process.

ABOVE: The 'Green Buterflie' scarf from Martyn Thompson's first accessories collection is printed on silk and uses designs from his interiors collections

We hear you were quite the club kid in the Eighties…
Ahhh... that was the early Eighties. A lifestyle choice that didn't bode well for my university studies! I always loved dressing up and was a real show off on the dance floor. I started making my clothes when I was quite young and was totally enamoured of Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren. I didn't really think anything could get better than New Romanticism, but when their Buffalo Girls collection came out I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. It’s still my fave fashion moment ever. I guess music was my first great love – and I admired performers like Siouxsie and the Banshees as much for how they looked as for their sound – though the music was fabulous too of course.

That period was an incredibly creative time, is there anyone who particularly inspired you?
There was a general spirit of getting on with stuff to just do it. For me, a young queer kid, this felt like a time outside of boundaries and prejudice. Boy George, Marilyn, Jimmy Somerville and other 'out' singers were a total inspiration. Homosexuality was still illegal where I grew up and I think these people gave me permission to exist.

What are your favourite design hotspots in the Big Apple?
The Future Perfect design store (below left) – David Alhadeff is a total advocate of what is new and is helping many new designers build their careers. I’ve always really admired Paula Rubinstein for her quirky take on vintage objects and textiles. Other favourites are Federico de Vera on Crosby Street – he has a really beautiful vision – and I love the new Oliver Gustav shop on Howard Street (below right).

Do you have any design heroes?
Yes plenty… to name a few, Gio Ponti, Mariano Fortuny, Vivienne Westwood, Susie Cooper.

Where's on your travel wish list and why?
Well, I'm crazy about Iceland. I love that there is still a sense of the unexplored and the impenetrable. It’s so ancient looking and can get really remote, really fast and you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere with no one – not a sensation that's commonly achieved where I live in Manhattan!

What's your social media of choice?
I have an Instagram account but I'm disappointed that it has become such a commercial medium. I think that Tumblr can be really beautiful, especially the 'pin up' board format – that's my favourite.
martynthompsonstudio.com 

Pictures: Lauren Coleman (The Future Perfect)

GREG NATALE

Award-winning Australian interior designer Greg Natale has made his name with glamorous schemes strong on geometric print, pattern, colour and trad-modern luxe. Based in Sydney, he's branched out to design covetable homewares, from graphic rugs to gorgeous furniture, accessories, wallpapers and tiles. He's also published his first book, 'The Tailored Interior', to share his tips, inspirations and projects. We meet the dandy decorator...

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

What’s your design philosophy?
I'm focused on creating bold, sophisticated interiors that are tightly edited and tailored with a distinct touch of glamour. Every piece has a place and shares a relationship with other pieces in a space.

How would you describe your style?
It comes down to my love of layering. I’m a big fan of interiors that are full and sumptuous, rich in textures and finishes, with a careful layering of pieces – whether the space is minimalist or maximalist.

What drew you to luxurious, glamorous interiors?
I’ve always been inspired by the late English designer David Hicks – the way he worked with bold colours and patterns, creating elegant environments, was mesmerising. Danish designer Verner Panton's layered, repeated patterns also influenced my aesthetic. 

ABOVE: Interior designer Greg Natale in the living room of an Edwardian house he restored in Sydney, backdropped by Fornasetti plates
ABOVE RIGHT: The UK/US edition of Natale's book 'The Tailored Interior', with a foreword by Jonathan Adler and photos by Anson Smart
BELOW: Natale's zingy dining room for Leichhardt House, Sydney, where the linear 'Comback' chairs by Patricia Urquiola for Kartell echo the lights

What are your tips for using print and pattern in the home?
I do love bold geometrics – they can really lift a space, bringing a layer of intricate interest to a large, open interior via a rug, carpet or wallpaper. I also love detailed curves, which can perfectly balance the angles in a house. It’s in bringing balance and contrast where print and pattern can really come into their own, ensuring a design is cohesive and dynamic. I recommend using neutral tones on bigger furniture such as sofas, then introducing accent colours, pattern and print via more easily changeable cushions, throws and rugs.

ABOVE: Natale's 'Diagonal' striped wallpaper for this small, one-bed Fitzroy Apartment in Melbourne, increases the sense of space (source it from Porter's Paints)

What does a tailored interior mean to you?
My work is essentially a bespoke business – it's all about tailoring my design skills to a client’s desires in order to capture their passions and style. I also curate every piece and finish so it holds its own special place in the mix.

Where do you get inspiration?
I'm interested by the worlds of fashion and art, which celebrate the glamorous and the luxe (I love the sexy, sophisticated tailoring of US fashion designer Tom Ford and Halston's style from the Sixties and Seventies). A lot of my inspiration also comes from the everyday things I’ve observed when exploring new cities. Some of my rug design patterns were inspired by the details on gates, buildings, even manholes. 

What inspired your latest collection for Sydney firm Designer Rugs?
‘New Modern’ is very contemporary and represents a natural step for me following my earlier, more classically inclined ‘New Regency’ collection for Designer Rugs. Each rug is named after a city – for example, ‘Rio’ was inspired by the city’s striking mosaic pavements, while ‘Los Angeles’ features deco elements that are such a part of LA designs. Others represent a mood or theme – so ‘Memphis’ gives a nod to the post-modern design movement. 

BELOW FROM LEFT: Graphic pattern rules in Natale's 'Miami', 'Rio' and 'Memphis' rugs from the 'New Modern' collection for Designer Rugs

ABOVE: Rome's Colosseum and the sexy, streamlined, Seventies glamour of New York's Studio 54 inspired Natale's armchair and coffee tables for US interiors brand Worlds Away, part of a 10-piece collection

Which of your collaborations are you most proud of?
Early collaborators Designer Rugs and Porter’s Paints both have a special place because they were the first brands to allow me to diversify. Designing furniture collections for Stylecraft and Worlds Away has given me the chance to create key contemporary pieces that embrace a little vintage glamour, while my Italian-inspired 'Pavimento' cement tiles for Teranova took a different approach to flooring. My new cushion range for One Duck Two suits both contemporary and classic spaces.

What’s exciting you in design or style?
I’m really excited to see a renewed interest in the post-modernist Italian design group Memphis, with its vivid colours, geometrics and graphics. It's one of my favourite design movements.

What about colour trends?
I’m loving the chic, sophisticated neutral appeal of navy blue. At the more dramatic end of the spectrum, I find the current trend for rich colours such as malachite and lapis lazuli breathtaking. And I’ve always been a fan of metallics, particularly brass.

Who are your design heroes? `
Alongside David Hicks, Verner Panton and Memphis, I love the work of modernist architects such as American Paul Rudolph and the late Australian legend Harry Seidler (I'm fortunate to live in an apartment in one of Seidler’s buildings today). I’ve always been a fan of the Californian Case Study Houses of the Fifties and Sixties, commissioned by US Arts & Architecture magazine. In my own industry, I count Jonathan Adler and Kelly Wearstler among my contemporary inspirations.

ABOVE: Greg Natale's cushions for One Duck Two span printed linen and embroidery in greens, blues, greys, and black and white. From left: 'Manhattan', 'Trellis', 'Monte Carlo', 'South Beach' and 'Malachite'

Where’s on your travel wish list?`
Saint-Tropez is number one. The sun, the setting, the glamour – what’s not to love?

What’s your social media of choice?
Pinterest – it’s such a great source of inspiration, in terms of absorbing that of others and sharing your own, and it allows you to create personal mood boards, particularly useful in my profession.

What have you been up to recently?
We had the US and UK launches for my book The Tailored Interior in September, and launched my first cushion collection with Australia's One Duck Two (available online at David Jones and in select stores). We also moved offices, setting up a new, more generous space in Surry Hills, with an appealing edge of glamour! In future, I intend to focus more on product, work towards another book, and ensure that the brand becomes more global in approach and reach.
gregnatale.com

'The Tailored Interior' by Greg Natale (Hardie Grant Books, £24.40, US$55, AU$69.95) launched in the UK and US in September 2015 and in Australia in November 2014. Snap it up online. Photography by Anson Smart.