CULT & nau - The Future of Australian Design

Words by Alana Perin
Photography by Sean Fennessey

Reflecting on the last twenty years has Cult founder and director Richard Munao feeling incredibly proud.

“Two decades ago we joined the local design scene with just four staff promoting two brands out of our Chippendale showroom. Twenty years on…we now exclusively import over 35 of the best design brands with over 50 staff working across six Cult hubs in Asia-Pacific.”

Cult Design The Local Project Feature Article Nau Gallery Sean Fennessy 7 Min

In celebration of this milestone, the iconic institution has undergone a renovation at its flagship Sydney showroom, making room for eight new brands to fill the gaps of its already established portfolio. Munao explains the company’s anniversary presented an opportunity to look forward. “We used the 20th year to reflect on our offering and have embarked on partnerships with brands that fill the gaps; giving us the opportunity deliver an entire home, office or workplace.”

Cult Design The Local Project Feature Article Nau Gallery Sean Fennessy 9 Min

Munao has successfully sourced new brands that fill these gaps and complement the current range. He says these brands fit naturally into the Cult collection with their aesthetics and strong sense of craftsmanship. Montana, Vipp, and Nanimarquina provide clients with a more complete offering that includes shelving and storage systems for kitchens and bathrooms, as well as soft furnishings. Brands Zanotta and Karakter Copenhagen are set to extend Cult’s range of classic design icons, while Techno’s collection of technological innovations elevate prospective workplace and commercial solutions. Strengthening the lighting collection is Louis Poulsen and Design Letters offers a minimalistic addition to the accessories range.

Cult Design The Local Project Feature Article Nau Gallery Sean Fennessy 16 Min

The expansion of Cult’s showroom could not have been possible without the expertise and innovation of Melbourne architecture and interior design firm DesignOffice. Having previously commissioned the staircase for Cult’s Melbourne showroom in 2010, Munao says the decision to engage DesignOffice once again was easy. “We have a long lasting partnership with DesignOffice, and share similar design values for quality, craftsmanship and timelessness,” he adds. 2018 brings not only a celebration of this iconic establishment, but also the birth of a new beginning.

Cult Design The Local Project Feature Article Nau Gallery Sean Fennessy 14 Min

The renovation of Cult’s Sydney showroom extends to an adjoining space dedicated to Munao’s Australian-made and manufactured brand NAU. After launching the brand in 2017 with four designers, the NAU Gallery is now home to six designers offering innovative furniture and lighting solutions. For Munao, it was important to be able to give the notion of ‘Australian design and made’ the platform it deserved, and he is equally as confident the NAU Gallery initiative will add to the Australian design landscape. “It has been very rewarding to create the opportunities for both Australian designers and manufacturers, and to contribute to the rise of Australian design both locally and overseas,” he says. Adam Goodrum, Adam Cornish, Jack Flanagan, Kate Stokes, Gavin Harris and Tom Fereday make up the NAU design team, creating remarkable lighting and furniture pieces that reflect Australia’s unique design culture.

Cult Design The Local Project Feature Article Nau Gallery Sean Fennessy 11 Min

Passionate about design in all its forms, Munao has his sights set on the future of the Australian design landscape and believes Australian designers are on the cusp of a global movement. “Australia’s design culture stems from a place of isolation. Our influences are unique from the rest of the world; we don’t have the legacy of the great designers like in Denmark and Italy,” he says. Adding to this notion of isolation, Munao explains the impact it has on Australian designers is pivotal to the aesthetic and craftsmanship our creatives are known for. “This allows our designers to be free of a past, and as a result, we’ve carved out a resourceful, hands-on and open-minded design culture. Our designers are fresh thinking and I truly think Australian design is on the cusp of a major global movement. We’re setting the future of design.”

Located at 17-19 and 21-23 Levey Street Chippendale respectively, the new nau gallery and Cult is open Monday to Friday 8.30am – 5.30pm, and Saturdays from 10.00am – 4.00pm.