17 Apr At Home With Stephen Falcke
Today we were lucky enough to chat to Stephen Falcke: one of the most renowned designers in South Africa. Stephen has decorated homes and hotels across the world and his work has been featured many times in magazines such as The House & Garden and Architectural Digest, amongst others. The message from Stephen rings loud and clear that we should all be grateful for what we have during this time: from gardens to simple pleasures, like time.
Q: Let’s start at the very beginning: What did you want to be when you grew up? And what did you study?
A: Initially I wanted to be an architect. As time passed, I realized my interests lay more in the decorative side of architectural decoration, and design was my answer. After finishing the army, I went to London and studied Interior Design at The Chelsea Art School in London – a wonderful experience.
Q: Where did your creative journey begin and when did you realize this was your calling? Did you have a “big break”?
A: I had always loved colour, pattern, design and history of design and architecture. I realized then that there was nothing else I wanted to do. My “big break” came when David Hicks, a renowned English designer, came to our final year exhibition. He had been looking for an assistant for a few years and, after seeing my work, wanted to employ me.
Q: What have been some of your biggest challenges in getting to where you are now, and how did you over come them?
A: My big challenges have been:
- approaching every job, no matter how big or small, with excitement and energy, and doing ones best
- working closely with architects with new builds or existing spaces
- trying to approach each job individually and giving it magic
- making rules
- …and breaking rules
- Remember, you are only as good as your last job.
Q: What advice would you give to someone just starting out on their creative journey?
A: My suggestion to anyone starting in the design or decoration world is to give of your best at all times. Think carefully about the client’s brief – so important. You are coming into a client’s life for a short time (unless for family or friends). Try and visualize what you want the end result to be. Be decisive. Show confidence. This career will take over and mould you for the rest of your life.
Q: Please share with us a picture of an area or object in your home that is particularly special to you, and tell us a little about it?
A: The picture I have shared is showing me in my library – a room I love. I love reading, researching and looking at all the wonderful books on subjects that interest me and my partner: the books we have collected over many years. Our library is a room that is always evolving.
Q; What are you doing at home to keep busy? Is there anything you have taken on to challenge yourself during this time?
A: One has time to think. Time to work. Time to tidy. Time to cook. Time to talk to my partner. Time to realize how privileged I am to have a garden. Time to enjoy our cats. Time to Zoom friends, have meetings and do courses and lectures online. Time to watch movies. Time to listen to music. Time to tidy drawers. Time to have a sense of humour.
Q: How has the pandemic affected your business, and how do you see your business changing out of this experience?
A: This pandemic is serious. Very serious. It is very traumatic for the whole industry throughout the world. The world will never be quite the same again. It is a time to be as creative as we can be. A time to make the most of the least. Time to use local, to explore our local talent and craftsmanship more than we have before. To put our own stamp and style on everything we do. It is going to affect everyone directly or indirectly. We have to learn to compromise but never visually show it. It will be a challenge; we must tackle it head on.
Q: What is the best advice you have ever received, either professionally or personally?
A: I have realized how privileged I have been. Life is a cabaret turning every negative into a positive. In the new world we are about to experience, there is no time to be pretentious. Be real, be kind and help and teach others. Be calm and carry on.