Simone says: Stylist Simone Haag in her own words
From managing rock stars’ parties to extreme sports, and jet-setting around the world in private planes and luxury yachts, Simone Haag’s path to designer and stylist was anything but conventional.
Beginning as a receptionist at design practice, Hecker Guthrie, she is now one of Australia’s most recognised designers, stylists and curators. As she adds creative direction to her workload, she is also set to host a television show later this year. And like thousands of other women, Simone also juggles work and motherhood.
How would you describe your work?
“I create spaces that are textured and timeless by curating furniture, art and objects.
I look at the paint, colours, lighting, furniture, art and objects. I see myself as an arranger of things. I work intuitively and have feelings about what, where and how things should go. I like to think of a house as a blank page, an empty book full of possibilities, a story to be told.”
You describe yourself as being a bit like a journalist. What does that mean?
“It is about developing a narrative. Every client has a story. It might be a story about travel, a marriage and new family dynamics. I’m trying to find that personal story. It’s only with that personal story that I can design a personal narrative, one that you can live and relax in and that reflects the person who lives in the home.”
What’s your favourite project?
“That’s a tricky one. I love them all. Armadale 1, I loved. I finished that house when I was with Hecker Guthrie. They sold it, another lady bought it and it was like having a second bite of the cherry. I was really proud to show how I was able to diversify. I didn’t want to come out of a studio and adopt their style.
What is your style?
“It always has colour. It always has vintage pieces, it is always clean, interesting and usually approachable.”
What is your own house like?
“We live in the leafy outer east in a mid-century house. We’ve renovated twice, first as newlyweds, then after two babies and thinking of having a third we renovated again and extended out the back.
“My husband is an engineer. We have clear jurisdictions. I’m inside, he’s outside. Kennedy Nolan Architects gave us terrific planning advice.”
If you could live anywhere, where would that be?
“I’m really fond of Melbourne. I travelled the world for seven years but if I had my choice it would be a mid-century house in Studley Park, Kew, close to the river and urban Melbourne and Collingwood where I have my studio at Le Space. It’s a gallery space that has little pods for creatives.
How did your eight years at Hecker Guthrie influence you and your ideas about design?
“Paul (Hecker) and I catch up for coffee every three months or so. I learnt how the design process works, how to sell an idea and how to bounce back if a client doesn’t like the idea. I also learnt what I couldn’t do and to trust your gut.
Where do you source objects and furniture?
“I went to Los Angeles last February and bought a lot of things. I want to be able to secure pieces from dealers before they hit the market. Italy is the epicentre, but COVID saw me looking a lot more locally.
How do you juggle work and motherhood with three young children?
“In the early days I’d get my little one to crawl down the hall while I ran and sent emails.
“With COVID 19, my god, it was round the clock. There were video classes, the dog had anxiety, I was always tired. The kids are one, five and six and my husband works 12- hour days. My mum is amazing. She reads the school newsletters; she has the kids for sleepovers. I’m lucky that I have a babysitter two mornings a week and she does all the hustle on those days. The rest of the time I just manage.”
What advice do you have for aspiring designers?
“Start by trialling your services to family and friends. That means you can make mistakes without upsetting the paying client. Set up an Instagram account. Also try and develop trade relationships. You need trade relationships to get trade prices for furniture and other pieces.”