"Creativity and curiosity go hand in hand."
With 30 years’ experience in textiles, interior design, architecture and publishing, David Clark is one of the most sought-after design consultants and curators in Australia. Former editor-in-chief of Vogue Living, David is an insightful and influential observer and creator of design trends and an outstanding advocate of Australian design.
Tell us a little about your current work - what do you do, and what inspires you to do it?
It's varied, but it's all based around the home. I curated a large design exhibition recently for the National Trust of Australia, which was interesting because it displayed contemporary design from Australia's best in one of the most historic homes in Australia. I'm also consulting to private clients about their interiors, working with businesses in the home space, developing a range of rugs, and generally looking for opportunities to promote Australian design.
How does your work enrich your life or the lives of others?
For me it's all about the pursuit of beauty - sharing that with others and opening their eyes to something new is very exciting and satisfying. Creativity and curiosity go hand in hand. Living a curious life is wonderful.
Can you share a recent project you’ve worked on that you’re most proud of?
That would be my recent exhibition, At Home: Modern Australian Design, at Old Government House. Putting contemporary design in an historical setting amongst an important colonial furniture collection prompted the designers and visitors to see Australian design in a new context - one that connects with our aesthetic history. It put Australian design in a new light.
What was the pivot point that set you on your current path?
There are several pivot points, all as crucial as each other. It began when I was a child and we would visit my Great Aunt's house in Sydney. Her husband, dead by the time I was born, was Arthur Baldwinson, one of the quiet heroes of Sydney modernist architecture. Their house was a lovely and simple modern gem overlooking the Lane Cove River in Greenwich. I would steal away by myself to Arthur's study downstairs and spend hours playing with his drawing board and plan drawers, drafting pencils and ink pens. I absorbed something then about the power of design. Now, 50 years later, I've had an interesting career that has meandered through the design world on many paths. I'm still going with that. There are other pivot points along the way. I'm still pivoting.
What advice would you give to others to identify and embrace those moments of action?
Be still, and allow the certainty within you to reveal itself. One of the most important pivot points on my way occurred when I sat for a long time on the ruined wall of an old monastery at the top of a Greek village overlooking the mountains and sea. I was in a meditative state. And then there was a clarity that I've always described as 'molecular'. That was great.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give someone who’s going through their own transformation?
Don't waste time, as I have, worrying about what other people are going to think.
Who or what has been your biggest inspiration in shaping your career? Are you creating your own path or being guided by a mentor?
I think I'm creating my own path, though not always as bold as I would like. There have been lots of people I've admired, and people whose careers have inspired me, but usually things have worked best when I've sought my own counsel.
Where in the world would you describe as the place that speaks to you - your soul place?
It could be somewhere I haven't been yet. Milan is a contender, but I think I would say Byron Bay. The energy of the place, and the confluence of the hills and the sea make it special for me. There is something also about the pairing of nature and sophistication that appeals. Milan for the same reason, or many places in Italy, where you can be in a cultural epicentre and still very close to a simple rural existence.
All images used with permission from David Clark.