The creative community took a collective gasp late last year when it was revealed that The Block judge Neale Whitaker had left the helm of Belle magazine, where he’d been shaping the nation’s interiors for eight years. Shortly after the announcement, word sprung that he was to move over to popular title Vogue Living. With his judging role on The Block still in full swing, it’s a move that’s further cemented him as the guru of local design – with no signs of slowing down.
In this interview, Neale talks to me about his judging on The Block, joining Vogue Living, upping the fashion stakes with his partner David and his continued dislike of trends.
The Block is upon us again! Do you still get wowed by room reveals after so many seasons?
I guess the day I’m no longer wowed will be the day to quit! Yes I still get wowed by The Block room reveals, just as I never tire of the houses and projects that land on my desk or appear in my inbox. Even after nine series of the show there is still a sense of anticipation before we open that door and genuine excitement when something has been done really well. And needless to say perhaps, a very real sense of frustration when they get it wrong.
I know you’re not one for trends, but is there a style you’re seeing more of lately in interiors that you’re loving?
I’m not one for trends as I dislike the cookie-cutter approach they can dictate. To be honest, I never want to see another exposed lightbulb as long as I live, but I fear I will. Ditto owls and twig wallpaper. As I’ve said before, my favourite trend is individuality. I love it when people mix it up and take a few risks. I am quite a fan of the new raw linen bedding though, especially in midnight blue…
You recently moved on from Belle Magazine. Was it tough to leave the mag after having spent so long with it?
It was very tough to leave Belle. I loved every minute of the eight years I spent editing it. But I’ve always had an instinct for when it’s the right time to move on and that moment came.
Your move to Vogue Living has us all a bit excited. Are you equally enthusiastic?
I am very excited to be at Vogue Living and also incredibly proud to be taking the reins of such an iconic publication. It’s a privilege to be here and an amazing opportunity.
You and David were recently named the most stylish men in Australia by D’Marge. How did that feel?
It felt very flattering – of course – but it won’t be going to our heads anytime soon. The most flattering thing was to be on a list with very stylish guys who are a couple of decades younger! On the other hand it was fantastic to see Mark Bouris and Paul Hecker also flying the flag for us more mature gents. They will probably both hate me for saying that, as will David.
What’s one of your fave cafes or restaurants locally that you guys love to get to for a bite or bevvie?
We love to eat out in our neighbourhood (Surry Hills) and our favourites are Suzuya on Devonshire St, Bishop Sessa on Crown St and Erciyes on Cleveland St. For breakfast and coffee I like The Book Kitchen and St. Jude.
Finally, did you make any resolutions for 2015 and what are you looking forward to this year?
I feel the same way about New Year resolutions as I do about trends. I don’t make any. That way I can’t let myself down. This year I’m looking forward to the new challenges at Vogue Living, more series of The Block and continuing to live the fortunate and happy life I already live. I have nothing to complain about!
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Images come courtesy of ninemsn, Daily Mail and One Management.