KIRSTEN GEEKIE

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Notes on Ghosts, Disputes and Killer Bodies

was a publication made for Salone del Mobile 2017 by Design Academy Eindhoven. In it, I interviewed Neale Whitaker, Editor in Chief of Vogue Living Australia. 


Old Meets New Via Vogue

It seems as if we're approaching a time of the-designer-as-celebrity, similar to the days of Dieter Rams at Braun. How do you see contemporary media playing a role in the trajectory of the designer?
Social media and - to a lesser extent - reality TV have changed the landscape for everyone in the creative fields. Sometimes it feels as if the one who shouts loudest is the one you hear. Online marketing and social media engagement are non-negotiable components for a designer's career trajectory. The greatest challenge is how to make that voice unique.

Do you think there is a place in the approaching design world for the meek (unfollowed) designer?
Yes of course - there will always be a place for designers and artists who choose to opt out of social media engagement. But their journey might be slower and their voice quieter.
Social media is transforming the domestic space into something very public.

Do you see the designer's focus shifting from larger furniture pieces to smaller, more Instagram-friendly items?
Speaking in Australian terms, I am certainly seeing a vast number of start-up companies selling home accessories like cushions, throws, blankets and bedlinen. Instagram and Pinterest have fuelled the demand and the items are created to fit the medium. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy.

A reader of Vogue Living will be presented design in a very different format from someone watching The Block. Do you see the opposition between these two formats as a way of democratizing design?
Yes I do - and the 'democratization of design' is a phrase I often use myself. My position is unusual, as the editor of a sophisticated interior design magazine and a reality TV host and judge. But I believe the two roles complement each other. My reality TV work allows me to experience how people who are not in the design world use the information provided by magazines like Vogue Living. How trends filter down to all levels of the market. And my role as a magazine editor brings credibility and integrity to my TV role.  

What do you imagine will be the preferred media format of the future?There is much talk in the media about the death of magazines. I don't believe that is the case at all. Print media will continue to thrive in conjunction with online, digital, video and social media channels. Magazine brands need to encompass all of these. As editors we are learning to satisfy different audiences through these channels. It is creating huge opportunity. At Vogue Living, for example, the print magazine has a relatively small circulation but our social media footprint exceeds 2.5 million people globally! 

Do you think cultivating a public personality can make a designer's work more interesting?
Only if the public personality is interesting too! A high profile might increase demand for the product but it doesn't necessarily make that product more interesting. Probably the reverse in most cases. 

What do you think will be the most used #hashtags of Salone del Mobile Milan 2017?#SalonedelMobile #MilanDesignWeek#Milan2017#authentic#authenticdesign#localdesign#LocalDesign