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The year that was and the year ahead with Neale Whitaker

11 Jan 2022 |  by Neale Whitaker

There’s little doubt the last two years have turned life as we knew it on its head. That old expression plus ca change – suggesting that the more things change, the more they remain the same – might have finally served its time. The pandemic has changed us all, not just in the way we approach our own safety and that of others, but in our values and priorities, our attitudes towards family and work and our assessment of what matters. For many of us it’s been a time to take stock and recalibrate. And while it would be naïve and even irresponsible to downplay the challenges and difficulties the pandemic has created, there are some positive outcomes to be celebrated.  

While ‘pivot’ might be one of the words we never want to hear again in a post-COVID world, it’s become a byword for the way millions of us in Australia and around the globe have re-evaluated the way we work and, in many cases, the jobs we do. Brewers and distillers manufacturing hand sanitizer; restaurants and cafes switching to take-out and home delivery; tourism and hospitality workers re-training or finding roles in new sectors. Not everyone has a positive story – of course they don’t – but there are plenty to be found in the creative and design industries, including at KING.  


Alinta Lim, Bradley Saywell and Mina Bassilious from the KING Design Team. 


Reassessing how we live

‘The pandemic has had a huge impact on the creative process of our whole design team’, says KING Head of Product, David Hardwick.On the one hand it gave us the space to stop and really concentrate on developing new ideaswhich was fantastic. But we are a close team and very collaborative in our approach. To not be together sharing ideas every day was a challenge'. But share ideas they did, and some of the KING products created by the team and launched during the pandemic reflect not only the way we are living today, but also a sharpened emphasis on the KING design principles and core values.‘On a deeper level, it’s made many of us reassess how we live and what’s important’adds David.    

KING Head of Product, David Hardwick


Celebrating function and form with Fleur 

The Fleur Sofa was developed during the 2020 lockdown and took out an award at the prestigious 2021 Good Design Awards. KING designer Bradley Saywell explains how – like so many great designs – Fleur began with a problem. ‘It actually started as a conversation with my parents’  he laughs. ‘The design challenge was creating a sofa that offered high back support but didn’t impose on the living space. From there, we developed the idea of a sofa that unfolded from a low-back silhouette to a high-back.’  

The Fleur ‘family’ (which also includes a lounge chair and several ottomans) has introduced a curvaceous, contemporary silhouette to the KING portfolio, and is (to my mind) a perfect example of form following function. Bradley explains that ‘designing for comfort and support is hardwired into our design process. The beauty of Fleur’s design is formed around the function. Every curve and detail is there because it enhances the function of the sofa.’  


The Fleur collection includes sofas, ottomans and a lounge chair. The innovative back rest unfolds for high back support. 


Vertio embraces open plan living

Also collecting a Good Design gong in 2021 was the Vertio Wall System, clever modular shelving that can be wall-mounted or compression-mounted between floor and ceiling. While undeniably good looking, Vertio is also a highly functional design that doubles as both shelving and room divider – ideal for a renewed need (with more of us than ever working from home) to create discrete spaces within existing open-plan living. As KING designer Alinta Lim explains, Vertio responds to how our living spaces have evolved to embrace open plan living. Plus, open shelving gives a platform to curate and showcase collections of items which tell the story of our lives and homes.’    


The Vertio Wall System can be wall or floor to ceiling mounted and is available in the signature timber finishes, featured here in Congo. 


Embracing the outdoor room

Even before the pandemic, the concept of outdoor rooms was gaining pace. Traditional Aussie backyards were transforming into sophisticated outdoor living spaces to increase the footprint of our homes and enhance our lifestyles. But more time spent at home during lockdowns and our inability to holiday overseas or even interstate, has placed an even greater premium on outdoor living.  

Little wonder that with designs like the Lode Outdoor Ottoman, Luna Outdoor Chair and Dining Chairs, Jasper Sun Lounge and Zaza Outdoor Sofa, KING has found itself at the forefront of this phenomenon. KING designer Tanya Rechberger agrees. 'Outdoor rooms are without a doubt the biggest development. As Australians we love entertaining outdoors, and our backyards are now outdoor living and dining spaces in their own right. Outdoor furniture needs to deliver on the comfort, quality and durability we expect from our indoor furniture.'


 Zaza Outdoor in Malibu Autumn Leaf featured with Lode Outdoor Ottomans, Luna Outdoor Chair, Oasis Coffee Table and Avalon Rug.


Looking forward to 2022

If anything, the pandemic has brought us all closer to our homes. It’s also taught us to value quality, longevity and functionality. It’s made us look at how we actually live. As KING designer Mina Bassilious explains, ‘we’ve seen a renewed focus on craftsmanship and sustainability, principles that have always been fundamental to the way we design furniture at KING.’  

In other words, what matters to many of us as we arrive in 2022 has always been important to KING. And the good news is that with a new flagship store in London (in addition to stores in Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, China and Canada) KING is spreading what matters across the world.  


Members of the KING Design Team in Sydney. 


Shop the story

Fleur collection


Vertio Wall System


Zaza Outdoor Sofa


Jasper Sun Lounge


Lode Outdoor Ottoman