Saskia Havekes has curated a life of flowers, from beautifully sculptured arrangements to be given for daily rituals to interior styling, fashion and editorial. Working from her Grandiflora studio in Potts Point, Saskia evolved her career from creating floral arrangements to being the author of four books, and more recently, creating her own fragrance and candle range. We sat down with Saskia to talk about Grandiflora, styling her home and her local hangouts.
Q&A with Saskia Havekes
Tell us a little bit about your background – where did you grow up?
I grew up in an artist’s studio in North West Sydney, right in the hub of the growers’ belt where many market gardens and nurseries surrounded our property. The studio cantilevered over a valley that housed a creek where my sisters and I would boil the billy after school with our horses and dogs. My father definitely had the creative gene, with a painter’s eye he was obsessed with beautiful interiors, making our home an inspiring place to grow up. Filled with eclectic, one of a kind ceramics and antiques our large weekend parties always had a great atmosphere!
How long have you lived here and what made you choose this suburb?
I live in Woollahra, which is where my family and I have lived for 15 years. I love how green this suburb is, in particular the tree lined streets which remind me of a country town. There is very large trees surrounding our home including a beautiful Fiddler Fig that towers over our house. It was actually this tree that beckoned us to buy the arts and craft, bungalow style home! All the greenery creates a really tranquil oasis that also attracts a lot of birds and nature, which I’m also drawn to. Adding to the overall appeal of our home, the trees give us the perfect amount of privacy, making our house feel uniquely secluded right in the middle of the Eastern Suburbs.
What was on your ‘must- have’ checklist when you were looking for your new home and why?
We of course had to have a garden; the children love getting their feet into the soil and we all love being outdoors. My husband Gary is a photographer so a studio/office space where he can work was a big ‘must-have’. Storage was also very important, as over the years I’ve accumulated a lot of props, artifacts and Grandiflora paraphernalia! For the house as a whole, we just really wanted something that was quite secluded, with a relaxing and welcoming feel.
How would you describe your personal style and how has this influenced the way you’ve styled your home?
My personal style is quite casual with an elegant edge. I like to surprise people and make them think. When choosing pieces for my home, I gravitate more towards things that I like vs. who made them or what brand they are. I don’t mind paying more for something that will last forever, especially when purchasing big-ticket items… I think of them as an investment.
When it comes to your home, where/who do you get your style inspiration from?
I often draw inspiration from artist’s studios…not unlike my fathers. In particular I love referencing the elegance and timelessness of the studios and homes of creatives such as Picasso, Brancusi, Frida Khalo, Monet and the villas in Europe such as Villa Necchi in Milan where they filmed ‘I am Love’.
Do you have a favourite homewares/furniture store?
Planet, Living Edge, Country Trader.
Do you have a favourite piece of furniture? Where is it from /what do you love about it?
Definitely the beautiful tables my father made with hand carved ceramic tiles. They remind me of eras gone by and I have a lot of respect for the quality of its manufacture and longevity.
What’s one place everyone should go to when they come to Potts Point and why
Fratelli Paradiso - the Italian food is consistently delicious and the scene is very ‘Potts Point’. With so many regular clientele, the wait staff and owners give the neighborhood a European edge. Billy Kwong is another must, the unique use of infused Australian ingredients makes it a wonderful place to take friends from overseas. Becker Minty is another great little Potts Point store; they are great if you’re looking to purchase a gift.
Your business Grandiflora is very well known among Sydneysiders. You’re especially renowned for your incredible arrangements and signature style. At home, how do you think flowers enhance a space? Is there one room in the house where flowers are a must and why?
Flowers in the main living area always bring a freshness and life to the home. They create personality and fragrance. Sometimes greenery can be a good quick fix and offer longevity for the busy inhabitant. The flowers often depict the personality of the owner and an ambience they are aiming to create. Changing up your arrangements will help you set the tone for any event as well as everyday living.
Running a successful business and your recent expansion into the world of candles and fragrances would no doubt keep you busy! How do you keep yourself organized both at work and at home?
I sometimes stay up very late when keeping my business and family organized. I try not to worry about too many of the little things and always make sure I have time to stop and smell the roses. I also think its very important to be able to keep good health by not committing to everything all the time. I ask for help only when I really need it.
What's your number 1 tip for keeping your home organised and fuss-free?
My home is never fully organized. I live in a world of creative chaos. I like the ambience around everything not being perfect, it feels more comfortable to be my creative self in this kind of environment.
In your house, which room would you say is your favourite and why?
Definitely my daughter’s rooms! I love everything about them; all their personal space is sacred and dear to me. I always feel privileged to be in their rooms and love seeing how their personalities are reflected in the unique styles and choices they’ve made for each of their rooms.
What are you currently working on, and where/what can we expect to see from you next?
We’re currently working on the fourth and fifth Grandiflora candle fragrance, molding wax into the form of specific flowers that are fragranced. I am constantly working on flowers…. everyday of my life I touch them and they touch me. I have learned so much from them!
Complete this sentence. When I get home, the first thing I do is…
Make a cup of tea in a pot and pour it into a hand made tea cup I purchased as a gift to myself from Planet made by Australian Vanessa Lucas. That to me is luxury…. that and sharing all life’s experiences with my two daughters each night.