The hotly anticipated annual Milan Design Week issue of Vogue Living is on the stands. Here, we talk to Editor-in-Chief Neale Whitaker about what's fresh and new on the international design scene and what it's like to be at the helm of this iconic Australian magazine.
Neale, the Sept/Oct issue is your third at the helm of this iconic Australian magazine – can you tell us some memorable moments in the journey so far?
To be honest it's all been memorable! I feel very privileged to be in the editor's chair at Vogue Living. It's a lifelong ambition fulfilled. Working with the team to redesign and reinvigorate such an established magazine - and take it to the next phase - is very stimulating, but it's a work in progress. There's always something to learn and to improve. The perfect magazine doesn't exist! And understanding the amazing potential of www.vogueliving.com.au has been incredibly exciting.
The cover is very beautiful and almost otherworldly – what role do romantic notions of beauty play in this day and age?
I think the cover particularly resonates today. Technology is amazing and has given us access to so much information, but we're bombarded from all sides and our minds are always crowded. Mine is, at least! So we gravitate towards images that are serene and peaceful. Our cover is a home in Marrakech and I think Morocco also has a powerful appeal - it's romantic and mysterious. It's almost the last frontier for many Australians.
How significant is Milan Design Week in the international calendar? Can you give us your pick of the key trends and designers to emerge this year?
Milan Design Week is still the most important event on the international design calendar. Dutch design icon Marcel Wanders describes it as 'New Year's Eve for the design industry' and that's exactly what it is. Milan is definitely a celebration of design but it's also where a lot of important business is done too. At Vogue Living we had our eye this year on designers Gamfratesi, Lee Broom, Apparatus, Max Lamb and Milan-based design supremos like Studio Pepe and Vincenzo de Cotiis. It was a great year for marble, rattan, metallics, pale pastel colours - and lighting. Amazing innovations in lighting.
Kelly Wearstler is profiled in a fabulous Women of Style feature (along with Anouska Hempel, Allegra Hicks and Aerin Lauder): what do you admire most about her signature bold vision?
It's hard not to admire Kelly Wearstler's very individual interpretation of luxury and glamour. She is a perfectionist and her understanding of the relationship between colour, texture, fabric and form is unique and inspiring. To me Kelly defines chutzpah - audacious and brave. I also respect the way she has created an enduring brand that embraces both commercial and residential interior design and decoration, fashion, jewellery, fabrics, furniture and lighting. There's an energy, a dynamism you can't ignore.
Each issue of Vogue Living seems to take us around the globe and back again – do you have a dream travel destination?
For me personally or for the magazine? I guess on both counts the answer is 'many'. Travel is very personal, so we need to share as many different experiences with our readers as possible. But I guess the common DNA is an appreciation of surroundings - whether that's a new hotel on the coast of NSW or a food-lover's tour around Sicily, both of which are in the new Sept/Oct issue of Vogue Living. And on a personal level I'm never happier than when in an energising city (New York, LA, Stockholm, Paris) or relaxing with an amazing view. I appreciate the beauty of Europe more as I get older.
What’s fresh and new for Vogue Living this year? Can we have a sneak peak of what’s coming up in future issues?
A new look and size, new contributors, new sections and a new focus on inspiring homes with heart, soul and character. Our heart will always be Australian but our focus is international and far-reaching.
Can you nominate the magazines that have inspired you over the course of your career, or that particularly inspire you today?
If those advertising guys were Mad Men, then I'm a Mag Man! I've had a lifelong love of magazines. My earliest obsession was with National Geographic - it showed me the world. My love of Australian magazines is what attracted me to these shores and I still believe we publish the best. But I'm also a fan of American magazines like Elle Decor, AD and Vanity Fair and UK titles like Vogue, House & Garden, Wallpaper* and Monocle. I'm inspired by fellow titles in the Conde Nast group like AD Spain, AD Germany and AD France. Wherever I go in the world I buy magazines. Drop me in a newsagency and I'll play for hours.
How important are subscribers to Vogue Living? Why subscribe?
Subscribers are very important to us at Vogue Living - and will become even more so in future issues as we roll out more reader and subscriber events! If we have limited places available it's the subscribers who will be first across the finishing line. Plus our subscribers are always the first to receive the magazine and they never miss a copy. That's very important to a loyal audience like Vogue Living's.