Whether you know it or not I can pretty much guarantee if you have even a passing interest in interiors you will have admired Kirsten Bookallil’s work at some point or other.
It’s been published in editorials everywhere from Vogue Living, Belle and Real Living to Harper’s Bazaar and Gourmet Traveller. Her clients include huge brands such as Country Road, Sheridan and David Jones.
Here she talks about the less glamorous realities of working in styling, her own home, where she finds inspiration and why she loves her job.
Mother of two Kirsten, who first studied graphic design at Enmore TAFE, finds design touches every part of her life. “My environment is important. This flows from interiors to architecture, art and then food. I realised I could use my design sensibilities on different projects.”
She enjoys doing editorial work for magazines (“I like work being photographed as it captures life with light, the vignette of a moment.”) and says it’s just as interesting working in print as it is styling someone’s home which they’ll actually live in.
Behind the scenes though, it’s organised chaos and many people have an unrealistically glamorous view of the industry. “It’s not nine-to-five. You work late into the night and a lot of the creative process happens over paperwork.” She adds: “The ability to juggle different projects, having organisational skills and getting along with people help a lot. My days are never the same and I love that!
“Freelance is a hard and often confronting way of working. I personally love it. I have a wonderful agent who organises my clients and work for me. I’m lucky I’ve been in the industry a long time so I have a good list of clients.”
Meeting and working with great people is one of the best parts of the job for Kirsten, who was born in Chicago, raised in Johannesburg and now lives in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. “The best thing about my job is the variety of work and the scale of detail from small projects to events.”
As for inspiration, it’s everywhere. “Inspiration can be a typeface on packaging, the colour of a paint, it’s all around. I feel most inspired when I’m travelling, but it can also be in my local supermarket or at the beach.”
Kirsten’s style has been described as understated and luxurious. Her own home (she is pictured here in her home office/dining room) is relaxed and ever evolving. “My home is my haven,” she says. “I’m very relaxed about my space. There are always changes as either things are being taken to be used as props on shoots or I get inspired by a collection of items and change areas of the house.
“We all need a spring clean to keep us fresh and excited about life. Even me.”
Photography: Michael Vang and Nicholas Watt