Melbourne-based designer and stylist, Simone Haag, is not your everyday creative. The forward-thinking stylist has built her dynamic career around bold choices, taking in everything from event-managing rockstars’ parties to extreme sports. But it is her clean, easy-going aesthetic and the way in which she creates a compelling space that sets her apart in the world of interiors.
Looking back, what ignited your love of good design?
“I studied business at university, then travelled for seven years and was fortunate enough to take on some incredible roles – I worked in London at the [Philippe Starck-designed] Sanderson Hotel as event manager helping to organise off-the-chart events, and from there I went on to work with Quiksilver as media advisor, traveling the world for two years on an old salvage boat during the company’s promotional tour. I then did a stint on private jets, hosting royalty and musicians, and spent a season heli-boarding in Canada. It was then that I yearned for a more creative role. I approached Hecker Guthrie, [the Melbourne interior design firm] my role started as a receptionist. That turned into the most wonderful 8-year mentorship ending with me heading up their furniture & styling department as well as managing the media and marketing side of the business. I think because of my previous life experience I was able to create a real connection with clients. I left on a high when I had my baby, I knew I couldn't do the work in the same way and it felt like the right time to start out on my own.”
Today, you create wonderful “immersive narratives” for your clients – what is your ultimate goal?
“One element I keep coming back to is the storytelling – what people surround themselves with should tell a story of their life. I love the idea of building a collection that will move with you. I want the journey to be fun, and not feel like it’s ever finished but rather has become a great foundation to build upon with a new sense of confidence. Ultimately, I want to revisit them in a few years and be blown away by how they've expanded on their own space.”
Your aesthetic in your own home is gorgeous –what makes it feel so special?
“My husband and I loved the house instantly, we new it had great potential – I had a Pinterest board in my mind of what I wanted to do. It’s an early 70’s house perched quite high on a hill in Ringwood with views to the leafy Dandenongs contrasted with a very urban aspect that is ever changing . Inside, it’s very calm, with muted colours, plenty of linens, an open fire and no television, it’s almost cabin-like, which I love.”
Which qualities, in your mind, are essential to a perfectly designed room?
“To me, texture is key. I love little vignettes of interest that can move around your home. I don't tend to go for harsh colour palettes, instead I prefer neutral tones and diffused lighting to create warmth – I can’t bear down-lights. I also love greenery and flowers and an overall sense of care, like you've really thought about what you surround yourself with .”
Is it possible to live in a designed space when you have children?
“When I was pregnant I had a shelf filled with ceramics, and everyone told me I’d have to pack it away. I didn’t, I figured Goldie would have to learn that those precious pieces meant something to me. As it turns out, she is very respectful of our books and collections. I think it would be too depressing to pack away your life. Yes, things occasionally get broken but I’m very house proud, and I think it’s good to teach your children to appreciate that as well.”
You had a sneak preview of Country Road’s latest collection – can you share your favourite piece?
“I loved the navy linen belted jacket worn in a strong, sexy-ish way. I think it is very easy to be a bit of a chameleon with fashion. In my former life, when I was snowboarding and traveling a lot, my wardrobe changed often. Now, it’s about zeroing in on beautiful textures and beautiful quality, I always strive for well-designed pieces that have longevity.”
Your daughters, Goldie, 2, and Clover, 7 mths, are adorable. How has motherhood changed your world?
“When I had Goldie, I didn't see motherhood as a punctuation point to what was, then, a design career starting to take form. Some people can park their life, and I envy that, whereas I had to figure out how to continue to do the job whilst being a mum. I love my children and am completely dedicated to my family, I also really enjoy what I do, and I think I’m a much better mum for it. My girls come to meetings with me, my clients understand that, and I think I’ve found the best balance possible. At the end of the day, I applaud every mother for making it work because a toddler is the toughest boss you’ll ever have.”
What is the greatest lesson your daughters have taught you?
The “lean-in” approach. On some level, every day is a battle, good or bad; they've taught me to take it one day at a time. I’ve also become very open to reaching out for help and happily receiving it.”
Lastly, can you describe your typical Sunday routine?
“I love waking up at our beach house, it is a real antidote to day-to-day life. There is no Wi-Fi, and questionable phone reception you are forced to switch off, enjoy long walks and surfing. My husband always gets up early to light the fire, it’s so cosy, then we’ll get a coffee and spend the rest of the day lazing together as a family.”