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“Interior design is about connecting people with pieces and trying to honour their personality” – Simone Haag

“Interior design is about connecting people with pieces and trying to honour their personality” – Simone Haag


“No one answer fits all” when it comes to juggling a client’s personality with the curatorial eye and style of the interior designer, says Simone Haag.

The interior stylist spoke to ADR about styling considerations and working with architectural typologies after recently completing a series of two-and three-storey townhouses in the Melbourne suburb of Balaclava.

Haag teamed up on the Inkerman & Nelson project with developer ICON Developments and MAArchitect, along with landscape architects Eckersley Garden Architecture.

For the project, Haag was given the unusual brief of styling the renders and the display suite that introduced prospective buyers to the townhouses.

How do you describe the look and feel of the interiors at Inkerman & Nelson?

As our studio specialises in furniture, art, objects and styling, ICON reached out to assist in two ways – the styling of the renders and the display suite.

It’s important to have symbiosis between the two – it creates a subtle recognition and a sense of familiarity which is always a great thing to help the prospective buyer.

One of the things that really excited me about this project was the brief – ICON didn’t want it to feel every day. When we were introduced to the project, the first thing ICON did was show us the brand and direction: bold, colourful and graphic.

In terms of our pieces, it was all about making it conspicuous, distinctive and provocative. Pieces which would sit comfortably within a really vibrant community like Balaclava.

We picked a really eclectic collection of furniture items – from bold rugs, emerald green colours and a clash of patterns.

Simone Haag

What makes styling for townhomes different?

In townhomes I see any shelf, ledge or table as an opportunity for stunning objects. The unique thing about Inkerman & Nelson is that it gave us more opportunities to layer things up. You have the ledge over the kitchen bench and the welcome station which can be a sturdy nook or landing area. There are lots of opportunities to add your own personality.

In townhomes you need to be mindful of keeping the collection quite refined. Grouping things that are likeminded, whether colour or texture, and using every surface possible as a moment to add your personality to the space.

Simone Haag

How do you work with architectural typologies through your interior design and styling work?

A few different approaches. The architect does their design and we can insert our palette, lighting, wall colour or the house is finished and someone decides to engage us.

Our pieces don’t necessarily need to match the architectural typology in the sense that a modern house doesn’t need to have modern pieces – it can come with a bit of the unexpected. It could be a period house with very bold, sculptural art or a brutalist house with very soft or feminine pieces.

We listen to our clients and what they want to surround themselves with, aligning with those views rather than the house itself. Some people like very clean spaces, some like objects which they’ve collected because they have meaning, some want you to pick everything.

No one answer fits all. It’s just about connecting people with pieces and trying to honour the personality of the inhabitants but also bringing your eye and curatorial skill to match their budget and intended outcome.

Simone Haag

What styling considerations need to be taken into account for young families?

With Inkerman & Nelson, we didn’t choose anything specifically for one particular demographic. Many types of families live in Balaclava and it was important to respect that.

With the living room, we chose an open-ended sofa and ottomans – quite a considered solution because it allows people to sit on three sides. It’s a deliberate way to create flow within a space.

We liked the idea of treating the rug as a piece of art. There may not be as many options for artwork on walls in town homes so why not bring it down on the floor. Art doesn’t have to live on the walls.

Bar stools sliding all the way in was an important briefing point from ICON. The whole idea was that you could accommodate four people around the kitchen bench, without it being cluttered.

We find that upholstered patterned sofas are far more robust and less likely to show than other fabrics, and upholstered elements of bar stools and chairs are easily reupholstered in five years’ time.

We also chose interesting pieces of art that were quite graphic – we wanted to have a little bit of fun and give it some soul.

Simone Haag

What are the biggest design trends for 2020?

From a colour perspective, I would say lemon and lilac as a combination – it’s not one I would have considered until I saw a happy snap from the team’s Design Assistant on a recent trip to Munich and the combination hit home as pure genius. 

In terms of trends, I would say one of the major shifts I am seeing is artwork coming off the walls and into the centre of spaces. Anytime we see a gap on the floorplan, the instant response is ‘plinth and sculpture’.”

Photography: Derek Swalwell

Lead photo: supplied

Simone Haag also recently teamed up with Andrew Simpson Architecture on a residential villa in Fitzroy. The Melbourne designer has more than a decade of experience in the industry and heads a team of women designers at her studio in Collingwood.


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