“The studio specializes in ‘furniture, art objects, and styling,’” says Melbourne-based Australian designer Simone Haag. “The best way to describe it is if you were to turn someone’s house upside down, what would fall out is what we do.”
Turn one of Haag’s interiors upside down and what falls out is a mix of carefully curated furniture, often with a mid-century feel, vintage one-offs, and deep muted colors mixed with interesting textures. She cut her design teeth at acclaimed studio Hecker Guthrie before setting up under her own name five years ago. Here she charts her path to design success.
What’s your earliest memory of designing something?
My earliest memory of designing spaces is in my childhood bedroom. The budget was tight and the aesthetic questionable by today’s standards, but it did highlight an underlying interest in changing spaces.
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What was your childhood ambition?
At one stage it was following my mother’s footsteps and working as a flight attendant—I took it one step further when I landed a gig on private jets, which involved fleeting rock stars and royalty around the world. That capped off seven years of travel, and after that I aspired to work in a creative agency where I could start to lay down some roots in Melbourne.
My mantra would be to furnish for life, not just a day
Tell us about your studies and early career…
I studied for a business degree and spent seven years traveling. On returning to Australia I worked at Hecker Guthrie, starting out as a receptionist and volunteering to help with anything furniture- or styling-related. This led to me later heading up the loose furniture department. I took the leap after eight years there and the birth of our first daughter, Goldie.
When and why did you establish your studio?
I started off freelancing. Small furniture jobs came to me, and with word of mouth and some great leads, more and more work filtered in. A few years later I established my own studio to allow me freedom to care for my family and break through the glass ceiling that naturally occurs when you work for others, and to be able to make my own aesthetic inroads in Melbourne’s design scene.
You liken yourself to a journalist or storyteller…
After going freelance, I did a lot of editorial styling work. While it was great fun, I started to question the temporary nature of shoot styling and the disappointment in the clients’ eyes after you had bought in all of these pieces and just as quickly whisked them away again. I decided my mantra would be to furnish for life, not just a day. I really get to know my clients and find the narrative between how they live and what they surround themselves with. I want to highlight the importance of hearing their story and intertwining it with a design response.
How do you like to approach a commission?
With enthusiasm—and lots of it.
What motifs do you return to again and again on your projects?
One of the things that I love is that each project has a different signature. So in terms of recurring motifs, I would hope that furniture pieces don’t recur, as I always want to provide a different outcome. But the things that do appear regularly are restrained color, chunky fabrics, the odd one-off or vintage piece, and an insatiable enthusiasm for my clients and their homes.
What are your favorite materials?
Anything lucite, fur or lambswool, suede, patterned and textured fabrics, and rattan pieces.
What unites your work?
The team approach that my design manager and I have. We finish each other’s sentences, know exactly what each other is thinking, and always know when something is amazing!
What would be your dream commission?
Kelly Wearstler’s recent hotel, the Santa Monica Proper, is my dream project. Otherwise any residential client with a healthy budget and exceptional trust will do.
How would you describe your personal style?
My dress style is casual with a great handbag, my interiors style is evolving with every project I do.