Nau – pieces from the Bower and Nest ranges.
One of the most important official launches — there was a sneak preview at ICFF in NYC a month before— at the recent Denfair, Melbourne’s annual contemporary design and art fair, is Nau, a new brand that consists entirely of furniture and design by Australian designers. Some might have been surprised at the relatively large size of the maiden voyage collection — general luxury design business wisdom has it that it’s safest to launch with a small range and build product in accordance with sales growth. But then Nau might be very now, but it’s not entirely new.
The mover and shake behind this bold new enterprise is Richard Munao, who started out with his Melbourne showroom Cult in the late 1990s and rapidly grew into the most important Australasian player in the contemporary furniture game and, in particular, as an importer of the heavyweight names and brands in European contemporary design. Back in 2014, he launched AG x Cult, testing the waters as it were with a capsule collection by vaunted Aussie designer Adam Goodrum. So, if Nau seems like a bold and daring —risky even— move to the cautious, the the very experienced Mr Munao has been plotting his move extremely well.
Nau – pieces from the Plum range
In essence, Nau is the offspring of AG x Cult, consolidating and extending its designs to a larger portfolio of products entirely by Australian designers with Adam Cornish, Adam Goodrum, Gavin Harris and Jack Flanagan operating as a kind of collective — in the public brand profiling, the pieces are authored to the collection rather to any of the individual talented designers.
Neutral tones, sustainable materials and production methods that minimise waste are all part of the credo. And so is Australia itself, as one might expect from a collection that has been launched with the promise, “Now is the time for a new Australian design movement.” From the bower bird’s characteristic nest to Sydney’s modernist architecture, inspiration is taken from the country’s unique environments. But, it’s also in a dialogue with the language of top international design heritage, from Scandinavia or Italy, as one might expect from such designers working internationally with top brands.
In one dramatic gesture, Nau arrives perfectly formed with something for almost every room in the home from comfortable chairs and sofas like the Fat Tulip range to flexible storage such as the Malloy range; Aran’s comfort-giving bed and the beautifully handcrafted lines of the Takushi table among other items on offer .
Naturally Nau makes perfect sense in both a design and sustainability terms — reducing unnecessary carbon footprinting on those very long transport routes for European or American high-end design heading down under. But does that mean we here in Europe need to feel guilty when, as we inevitably will, want to take Nau out of Australia? Well, they could always arrange local production, couldn’t they? We live in hope.
Nau – the Fat Tulip sofa and Malloy modular storage unit