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The Art of Simplicity by Neale Whitaker

23 Dec 2020 |  by Neale Whitaker

The Japanese have a word for most things, and I’m sure eventually they will have a word (if they haven’t already) to describe the spirit of reassessment and re-evaluation inspired by 2020’s global pandemic. But in the meantime, I’ll start with the Japanese word Issho - meaning ‘together’ - that King has chosen to name one of its best-selling dining tables. The name references the form of the table and its clever construction, but it also suggests the conviviality of the dining table as a place where people gather. A focal point in the contemporary home. And this summer, King has added a rectangular version of the Issho table to the existing circular style, and even a ‘Lazy Susan’ version for relaxed, informal dining.

In recent years, I believe we have seen a renewed interest in quality, craftsmanship, and integrity in design and manufacture. We care about where and how a product is made and its longevity. And I also believe the pandemic has given many of us the opportunity to reconsider what is important – not just in furniture and design, but in many aspects of our lives. It’s not a pause any of us anticipated, but if there is benefit to be gained from the last twelve months, it must surely be in the opportunity to question old values, and to consider what gives our lives meaning. In my days as a magazine editor and columnist, I was often challenged to define the meaning of luxury. Amidst the frantic pace of life pre-COVID, the answer was usually ‘time’. But today, simplicity – and the way in which it affects our senses and wellbeing - feels closer to luxury.

At King, The Art of Simplicity places an emphasis on pared-back design and relaxed living, qualities that lie at the heart of Australian style. As Australians, we value functionality and practicality, but we also demand comfort and beauty from furniture that allows us to live both indoors and outdoors for much of the year. Our climate and geography allow us a unique lifestyle that, in turn, defines our aesthetic. As a Brit who chose to call Australia home many years ago, I’m always intrigued by what influences northern and southern hemisphere sensibilities.

So often in the northern world, we see colour and decoration used to bring life to dark days. But here in the southern world, our abundant natural light and vivid landscapes draw us towards simpler shapes and muted colours. King’s new Monument coffee table demonstrates simplicity of texture, form and materiality, and the new Amara dining chair (to my mind a perfect partner for the Issho table) - King’s first solid timber chair, made from sustainable timbers - will add the art of simplicity to the dining room, home office or bedroom.

And finally, to another Japanese word – takumi – which translates as ‘craftsmanship’. A Japanese designer once explained to me that takumi embraces not only artisanal quality but also an attitude of mind, a sense of pride and perfection in the process of creation. In Australia we call that King.