Meryl Hare of the renowned design firm Hare + Klein began her creative career in graphic design but ultimately took a different path as people started approaching her to work on interior design projects. She started simply, primarily with enthusiasm and a strong lineup of clients, and over time she grew her design studio into what it is today, following not only experience but also formal training.
Hare + Klein has been one of the leading interior design firms in Australia since its' inception in 1988. During that time, Meryl and her team have been recognised by countless awards and media outlets. For example, she was inducted into the DIA Hall of Fame in 2011 and Meryl is a Fellow of the Design Institute of Australia.
Meryl co-authored a design book with David Clark in 2014, and awards have included numerous Australian Interior Design Awards through the years. Recently, Meryl’s work and the work of Hare + Klein has been showcased in Belle magazine, Australian House & Garden, Vogue Australia Living, Architectural Digest China, and Domain.
We had the opportunity to talk with Meryl about her history as a designer, what inspires her, and her approach with clients and projects.
1. When did you first decide to become an interior designer and how did you get started with your design business?
I almost fell into interior design! Thank goodness. I initially trained as a graphic designer, but when friends started asking me to help them with their homes and I was approached to start a business with an interior designer with some experience, I jumped at the chance. We started with very little capital, lots of enthusiasm and an impressive couple of clients. I owned a small gallery, that became our studio. I went on to do further study, but found my graphic art training came in useful as well.
2. Is there an interior design style you favour and do you have a signature style yourself?
I respond to different styles of design, if they are relevant, well designed and well executed. Context is important when it comes to the design aesthetic. Hare + Klein tries not to have a signature style, as we believe that each project is unique and should be designed for our clients lifestyle and brief. We do however have an underlying aesthetic that is linked to our love of texture, colour, comfort and generous proportions.
3. Who are the interior designers who have been the biggest influence on your own work?
I don’t follow any particular designers, but always appreciate great interiors and suppose that subliminally this has some influence on the work.
4. What are your design inspirations?
Inspiration is a strange and illusive thing! It rarely comes on demand, but rather pops up unexpectedly when you’d prefer to be asleep! I suppose it comes form all the visual stimuli that we enjoy - travel, nature, well designed product, art, etc.
5. What is the most challenging part of your job?
The biggest challenge is at the beginning of a project. Defining the brief and then translating the elements we are working with into a concept and design language that is right, inspiring and that resonates with our client. That’s where the illusive inspiration comes in!
6. What do you think is the essential piece of furniture we should all have in our bedroom?
A very comfortable bed, with beautiful linen, that invites us to rest at the end of the day.
7. What key element do we all need for a beautiful living room?
Key elements for a living room vary - we often start with a beautiful rug. We recently launched our second collection with Designer Rugs of hand knotted artisan rugs woven in Nepal, they have a way of grounding a room without dominating. Sometimes its a piece of art, that holds the focus of the room, or it's the way everything works together - creating a space that is inviting and comfortable. We place a lot of emphasis on comfort- it’s the great luxury in a home.
Undoubtedly Meryl will continue creating beautiful spaces and products, and carry on the respected name of her design firm, which is going on nearly three decades as being one of the best in Australia. She's also likely to continue working with a focus on context and to avoid having a signature style in favour of taking in the unexpected inspiration that’s all around and customising each project to the individual client.
Let's Get Personal ....
1. What else are you passionate about besides your work? Travel and family.
2. What is your most treasured belonging? A beautiful bowl made by my friend - artist Ruth Levine.
3. What's one thing people may not know about you? That I’m over six foot tall!!
4. In 10 years I'd like to be .... Doing what I’m doing now. Every day is different - I love my work and the talented people that I’m privileged to work with.
5. What can't you live without? Coffee and friends.