MICHAEL ANASTASSIADES

Cypriot-born, London-based designer Michael Anastassiades is known for his pared back aesthetic and sculptural, one-of-a-kind lighting. A former Royal College of Art and Imperial College graduate, his perfectly poised designs use simple geometric shapes that complement both contemporary interiors and elegant homes

BY CLAIRE BINGHAM

How would you describe your work and philosophy?
‘Reduced’ is how I would sum it up. I don’t like to use the word 'minimal' because I feel that is misunderstood in terms of design. What I’m looking for is simplicity. I like to remove excess information from the visual language of the object to distill it to a point where actually, what I decide to give it, is the bare minimum. I believe this is really important in communicating the idea behind an object.

Tell us about your new products for Italian lighting firm Flos. 
The ideas were different for each one. In the case of 'Captain Flint', it was about trying to make a light that works in a doorway. On the one hand, it can be a reading light next to a sofa, but by simply changing the direction you have an uplighter for a more ambient atmosphere, or you can even direct the spot against a wall or specific object. On a practical level, it is a light that works in all sorts of scenarios. The inspiration plays on the idea of balance. The cone balances on its tip, on a stick, which is an extension of the collection of the 'IC' light.

ABOVE: Michael Anastassiades with his 'String Light Cone Head' pendant lights for Flos, inspired by electricity pylon power lines
ABOVE RIGHT AND BELOW: 'Captain Flint' can be rotated through 360 degrees. It comes in two finishes – brushed brass with a white Carrara marble base and anthracite with a black Marquinia marble base

What is your starting point?
In the case of my latest collection for Flos, I addressed the notion of balance. There is a sense of anxiety, almost. How is it possible? How can a cone balance on a stick? The practicalities of a design are subconscious. They are always there and you have to solve them at the end of the day.

What draws you to lighting?
Lighting for me is fascinating because it is special. It is not the same as any other product design. It has to work in two different scenarios: when it is on and when it is off, and this duality is very challenging. When it is off, you view it as an object and the space it occupies but suddenly, when the bulb is switched on, then it exists in an entirely different way. The way it interacts with other objects, in terms of casting shadows changes everything. Of course, light is a very beautiful and very poetic medium and that is what attracted me to it in the first place.

BELOW: Also for Flos, Anastassiades' spherical 'Extra' table lamp plays with balance, and comes in bronze, graphite and silver finishes; The 'Copycat' light is composed of two connecting spheres. The large illuminated globe is contrasted by a smaller one in polished aluminium, electroplated 24 carat gold, black nickel or copper

Which of your lighting designs are your favourites?
I live with very few objects in my home and so the things that I choose are carefully selected. In terms of my own designs, I like living with them but it tends to work on a rotational basis because I don’t have space for all of them. There are different reasons why I like something. Sometimes it is sentimental in the sense that it could be one of my early pieces of work. Sometimes it could be a reminder of an experience that I’ve had.

ABOVE: Another balancing act is pulled off by the 'IC' standard and table lamps in chrome and brushed brass

Beyond lighting, is there any new design territory you would like to tackle?
I am already working on furniture. I have a partnership with US brand Herman Miller that allows me to explore that world, however, lighting is really my passion, my preference. The collaboration with Flos is important. We started in 2011 and the first product launch was in 2013.

Who are your design heroes?
I have many. I wouldn’t say they were heroes. It’s too much load to bear, I think, to be a hero. For me, I like different designers in the same way that I like a lot of artists' work. I am more inspired by art than I am by design.

Photo by HIT1912/iStock / Getty Images

Where’s on your travel wish list?
Unfortunately, I only go to places where work takes me. There is very little time to explore other parts. Cyprus and Greece are special destinations when it comes to choosing places to rest but they don’t excite me like Tokyo, for example, which I find fascinating. I’ve been many times but I always like to go back.

What’s your social media of choice?
I am quite distant from it. I do use Facebook, and Instagram I find interesting, but all these things consume you in a way that I don’t really like. I like to get inspiration from observation instead. They are good tools to keep in touch with people but that is the best use I can think of for them.
michaelanastassiades.com  studiomichaelanastassiades.com

Pictures: Frank Huelsboemer, Giuseppe Brancato, Getty Images

NERI&HU

Founding partners of acclaimed Shanghai architecture and design practice Neri&Hu, husband and wife Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu are also creative directors of Chinese furniture label Stellar Works and have crafted elegant modern products for a host of top global brands.

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

What’s your design philosophy?
At Neri&Hu we believe in architecture and design as a powerful cultural force. We prefer the subtext over the obvious, and the poetic over the utilitarian. We always start with a concept and research it in depth, looking for traces and signs that inspire us. We are still too young to have a distinct language, so we flow in many directions depending on the specific project, but we always explore layering, transparency, texture, framing and materiality. Questions of culture and aesthetic philosophy concern us deeply and we also want to relate what we do to everyday life.

What do you each bring to the party?
Lyndon is more of a creator and Rossana a critic, which is a good combination.

ABOVE: At The Waterhouse at South Bund, Neri&Hu transformed a Thirties army headquarters in Shanghai into a rough-luxe boutique hotel

How do you balance heritage and modern to create a new Chinese aesthetic?
For us, the redevelopment – or historic renovation – projects are extremely interesting. They allow us to try different ways of interpreting culture and history, something that relates to our identity as individuals and as a collective, and to explore the contrasts between old and new. They’re also a perfect way of preserving memory, as well as creating a sustainable environment to promote healthy reuse, rather than simply demolishing and rebuilding for commercial gain.

Which recent projects are you proud of?
We’ve just designed Kuala Lumpur's Sentul Contemporary Art Museum in Malaysia, which is about monumentality and preserving urban memory, and a creative agency's headquarters for Meiré und Meiré in Cologne, Germany, which merges architectural and institutional identity.

ABOVE: Industrial-chic interiors for Kensington Street Social restaurant at The Old Clare Hotel in Sydney team raw concrete and sleek wood with brass and glass louvres

Tell us about Sydney restaurant Kensington Street Social at The Old Clare Hotel.
We were inspired by Kensington Street Social’s setting within the former Carlton & United Breweries building. We reinterpreted the brewing equipment once used there by inserting two machine-like volumes into the space. The two machine boxes rest atop a continuous concrete landscape defining the footprints of the restaurant’s tapas bar and cocktail bar. The design also takes its cues from the ‘social’ motif of chef Jason Atherton’s restaurants and architecturally treats the interior as an extension of the lively Kensington streetscape, blurring the boundaries between inside and out. 

ABOVE: Neri&Hu's graphic 'Remnant 1' (red) and 'Remnant 2' (blue) rugs for Dutch brand Moooi Carpets reflect Chinese streetscapes; 'A Cabinet of Curiosity' cabinet and 'Utility' sofa for Stellar Works; 'Jie' rugs in celadon and blue for Spain's Nanimarquina, riffing on street tile patterns

What inspires you?
We are inspired by the mundane and the ordinary. The fabric of Shanghai and the everyday activities in and around the city are a huge inspiration. The Western architectural tradition forms the basis of our education, but culturally we are very much Chinese, and that influences our work especially in China. We also like to examine local culture wherever our projects are located.

What’s currently exciting you in design or style?
Paring down to the essence of things – not simply minimalism, but keeping only the necessary while still creating an enriching spatial experience. Also exploring new materials.

ABOVE: 'Ayi' coat rack/umbrella stands for Swedish firm Offecct; the red ash 'Ming' chair for Stellar Works reinterprets trad wooden Chinese seats; Conceived as 'little butlers', 2016's 'Ren' occasional furniture collection for Italy's Poltrona Frau was inspired by the Chinese character 'ren' meaning 'people'; Co-joined 'Together' chairs for Denmark's Fritz Hansen

Who are your design heroes?
There are many contemporary giants whose work we admire. Le Corbusier is still very relevant for studying form and spaces. Carlo Scarpa continues to inspire us with his details and composition, and Adolf Loos with his clarity and rigour. Of the architects practising today, we admire the work of SANAA, Alvaro Siza, David Chipperfield and Peter Zumthor. In terms of mentors, Lyndon's thesis adviser at Harvard Graduate School of Design was Rafael Moneo and he’s definitely played a big part in moulding his take on architecture. Both of us worked at Michael Graves, which taught us a multidisciplinary design approach.

Where’s on your travel wish list? 
Malawi, Istanbul and Prague [Rossana]. Argentina and Berlin [Lyndon].

TOP: A continuous clothes rail runs around flagship fashion store Comme Moi in Shanghai, which also sports cage-like custom-made cabinets; 'Dowry' cabinets and other signature pieces for Stellar Works; 'Jian' hooded sofa for Spain's Gandiablasco against the Pudong skyline
ABOVE: The 'Bai' pendant light family for Spanish brand Parachilna encases a Chinese lantern in a modern glass bulb; A lattice of brass rods creates see-through interiors at skincare brand Sulwhasoo's Seoul store

What’s the Shanghai design scene like?
It is being infiltrated with global energy and design influences on a daily basis, and the absorption rate is extremely high. The problem that comes with this phenomenon is that people are not that critical about what they see and use, so regardless of whether things are good/bad, appropriate/inappropriate, they are all being taken on here.

What’s your social media of choice?
Instagram, I like images over words when expressing myself [Lyndon].
Weibo if at all, but trying to boycott it right now! And Instagram [Rossana].
www.neriandhu.com

Portrait: Andrew Rowat Other images: Poltrona Frau and Sulwhasoo, Pedro Pegenaute; Gandiablasco, Dirk Weiblen

For more on Neri&Hu, see our earlier post on Stellar Works

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.

POLLY DICKENS Habitat

Polly Dickens is a well-known figure on the London design scene. Famous for her brilliant eye, she has travelled the world as a buyer for retailers including Anthropologie, Liberty and The Conran Shop. Now Creative Director at Habitat, she has gone full circle back to her Conran roots charting the unexpected colour combos, textures and patterns that embody Habitat's genre-hopping, global mix.

BY CLAIRE BINGHAM

Tell us about your new collection for Habitat.
We’ve looked at a range of ideas for AW15 from the 1980s Memphis design movement to mid-century America, 1950s Scandinavia and modern-day Africa. Our designers have translated these ideas into a collection that ticks lots of boxes with interesting use of materials, strong shapes and bright colours. My favourite is the new 'Astrid' light designed by Matthew Long, which was inspired by DNA molecules for a simple but elegant, graphic lighting concept. His 'Hawkins' armchair is also a real statement combining an angular shape with chrome frames and mixed fabric textures (see our picks from the Habitat AW15 collection here).

ABOVE RIGHT: 'Hawkins' armchair by Matthew Long in green wool and grey velvet, £995, Habitat
BELOW: 'Astrid' lights by Matthew Long, from £70, Habitat

What aspect of the range do you love the most?
That it’s brave and makes a statement. I always admired Habitat for creating designs that have a distinct personality – designs that aren’t afraid to challenge conventions and push people into looking at home furnishings in a different way. With this collection I really feel that we’ve done that again, creating statement designs that some will love and some will hate but that encourage people to be passionate and engage with design. Nobody else is doing that on the high street but it’s where Habitat will always be.

How would you sum up your style as a designer?
I’m not a designer as such but more of an editor – putting together designs and products for the Habitat collection and building the creative identity of the brand. For me, the provenance of a product is paramount and I’ve worked to champion ‘the hand of the maker’ at Habitat. You’ll notice, especially with our ceramics, textiles and accessories, that we’ve made sure you can see where a person has worked on a product – from brush strokes to imperfect shapes.

What are your influences?
I find that experience is my biggest influence – experiences from travels, exhibitions, trade fairs, theatre – the list goes on. I am continually inspired by people, places and things around me. These are constantly changing and translate into the collection in some shape or form. This year, the incredible Jackson Pollock exhibition at the Venice Guggenheim was the inspiration point for our Christmas 2016 collection, which we are really excited to launch.

BELOW: 'Mural' (1943) by Jackson Pollock is on show at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, until 16 November 2015

Who or what is exciting you in design right now?
UK designer Aaron Probyn (left). We worked with him on a retrospective project for Habitat’s 50th birthday back in 2014 and I’m working with him again on a new collection for SS16. The way he adapts across product categories using different mediums is fascinating.

ABOVE: 'Poise', 'Pendry' and 'Marlowe' table lamps for Habitat by Aaron Probyn, 2014
BELOW RIGHT: Jean Prouvé's 'Fauteuil Direction Pivotant' office chair by G–Star RAW for Vitra

What’s next for you?
We’ve just finished putting together our SS16 collection so it’s on to AW16. I’m off on a big buying trip to the Far East taking in Hong Kong, China and Thailand. We’ve worked with suppliers out there for a number of years and on this trip we’ll be looking at accessories from new ceramicists' studios, working on Christmas decoration designs and also new porcelain lighting in China.   

Who are your design heroes?
Jean Prouvé is one. I love his work and am fortunate enough to have collected several of his pieces for Vitra over the years.

Where’s on your travel wish list?
I’m a bit of a travel junkie. My job has meant I’ve been lucky enough to cover most corners of the globe but the one place I want to spend more time is Japan. It is such a diverse country that I have only been able to glimpse it on business trips so would love to have more time to explore. I’m also a passionate cook, so anywhere that has a good food market is on the list too. 

Is there anything you wish you had designed?
Anything from Korean-born, Brooklyn-based Jennie Jieun Lee’s ceramics collection.

ABOVE: The colourful painterly ceramic world of Jennie Jieun Lee

If you weren't a creative director, what might you have been?
At university I was heavily involved with student theatre, designing and making costumes for lots of different productions. I loved it and was thinking of extending my degree into theatre design.

What’s your social media of choice?
I’m quite an ‘unsocial’ media type, however I love photography and my iPhone’s memory is always full of all the pictures I take, so I’d have to be on Instagram.
habitat.co.uk 

Habitat's Autumn/Winter collection is available from September 2015