There were countless reasons I wanted to interview revered Interior Stylist Shannon Fricke as part of this series. Her work, passion for life and uninhibited honesty in communicating her truth has always inspired me. From time-to-time, there are people that cross our paths that make us feel the greatest sense of fortune for the unexpected encounter. This has certainly been the case in meeting Shannon. What make her qualities all the more endearing are the fact that despite her high profile career as a stylist, interior designer, television presenter and author, her incredible humble nature makes her one of the most genuine people I have ever met in my life. A rare quality amongst those that have plenty to boast about. What strikes me about Shannon, is that she has carved a dynamic career path with what appears to be the greatest of ease. It’s not the case. Her dedication, hard work and passion for helping others find their natural design flair, is noted by esteemed colleagues, close friends and countless collaborators that request her creative expertise. I am absolutely thrilled that she will be co-hosting our Creative Immersion Retreat with revered photographer Carla Coulson this September on the Greek islands. It’s a rare gift to be presented the opportunity to work alongside two powerhouse women that I have the good fortune of calling both my Mentors and Friends. I am so pleased to share Shannon’s story as part of The Mediterranean & Me…
As an interior designer and stylist, your visual sense is constantly being polished. Tell me how this translates into how you take in the world around you?
As a creative person, fostering a deep connection with the world around me is synonymous with who I am. A connection to nature is like breathing for me. This is where I see and feel my best ideas and so I make sure to spend time everyday touching and taking in the earth in some way. My move to Byron Bay 12 years has helped with this. Every morning I will spend time on the beach, with toes in sand and body in salty water to get me back into rhythm with my most creative self. It’s the most inspiring elixir. Having said that, time spent in the city is a must also, to ensure that I’m awake and all of my senses are standing on end. Time in NYC, London, even Los Angeles gives me a jolt of crazy energy that helps with my work. I find I need to be on the move always – when I’m moving I can see things more clearly.
What I love about your approach to interior design is how emotive it is. You make a reference to the space in our homes being an extension of ourselves. A quote of yours I love is thinking about your home: As having a kind of heartbeat of its own. Tell me more about this concept of our inner selves being an expression of the space we live in.
From the time I was a small child I was acutely aware of the effect my environment was having on the way that I felt in my mind, body and spirit. When I was at home, I felt the most nurtured and peaceful. My mother was a keen interior decorator and valued aesthetics. Our home, although a small, humble flat in Sydney’s Bondi, was her creative canvas and I watched her craft her space to suit herself (and me). It took years for the space to evolve to a place that fully represented her emotional core. I watched as she tinkered and added layers that seemed to reflect her experiences and the way she felt. The psychology of living always played a large part in the conversations we held in our home. The why, when and how one does the things they do. It made sense to me that these two aspects had an enormous effect on how I viewed the world and as a result my creative work became an extension of this ethos. For me, home is a heart centre – or a heart beat. It pulsates with the energy of every person who crosses the threshold into your space. How you shape your space can have a positive or a negative effect on how you feel living in your environment. And so, I’ve always advocated mindful decoration. Decoration that is underpinned with one’s individual pulse. This way, the heart centre is sure to be pumping in rhythm with the purest self. Why, when we have the choice, would one want to live any other way?
Travel is a valuable part of your life – particularly in terms of how it comes to feed and inspire both your work and personal life. I’m fascinated by your connection with the desert in the US. I know you’ve spent a lot of time there and have just returned from a recent visit. What is it that keeps drawing you back?
Time spent in the desert is a visceral thing for me. The naked desert earth beats the loudest – in that, I can hear my instinct and my truest voice most clearly when I am in the desert. I am a big believer in following ones instinct as a prescription for living. I move, act and create in total rhythm with my instinct. If something is ‘off’ I wont do it. I need time on my own to hear my instinct speaking its truth. I utilise this method daily to help steer me through the day-to-day of living. However, when I am at a crossroads in my life, or need to see something that I’m just not ‘getting’ at home then I will head to the desert. I go alone. I walk. I meditate. I sit. I read. I write. The desert never fails to give me the answers I need. I feel this way in every desert I have visited. Uluru was the first. I remember lying on the ground crying when I first walked this desert. The Middle East is the same. And of course, I have a particular fondness for the Arizona and Californian desert. It’s like the wild best of thought and creative pulse. It never fails to push me to places I never imagined going!
Greece has been a country you’ve been meaning to get to for some time and finally you get to visit later this year. Given your strong visual aesthetic, what are you anticipating most about this trip?
I have a deep connection with Greece even though I have never visited. The two psychics I have seen in my life both told me I need to visit Greece. I don’t know why. I’m guessing I’ll find out soon! I think again it is an earth thing. The islands are bare and rocky. The people are pure and simple. The energy is still and calm. For me, this is living at it’s most beautiful. I’m excited to see what creative energy comes in Greece. I’m anticipating it will be beautiful and magnificent.
You’re quick to embrace new projects and dive head first into unchartered territory. You embody a fearlessness when it comes to approaching new creative ventures. It’s a quality I’m in complete awe of. Where does this sense of assuredness within yourself stem from?
It’s innate really. I have always been a fearless type although there were a few years there when I would second-guess my decisions. I think when you have children one is more cautious to act. Mostly, when I’m making any decision for my life I come back to the same question for myself – ‘what would your 70-year-old-self say if you didn’t take the leap?’ I know the answer; she would shake her head and say ‘you really should have just gone for it’. My insurance policy is ensuring I am always living in rhythm with my true self. This way, the leap is not so great because even if I can’t see the outcome I trust my instinct and run with it anyway. My instinct has never let me down yet. The most difficult thing of course, is reconciling what you think you want for your life (your mind) and what you really want for your life (your heart). Sometimes the two go into battle. But the heart always wins out. One must always follow their heart. If I’m questioning I look for the signs. The universe always provides you with answers to any questions you have for yourself. And so, I’ve made it my life’s work to educate myself around the signs so I can make considered but fearless, decisions. Our indigenous cultures teach us the most in this regard and so I’m an avid reader on how they read the earth and what meaning they impose. Then, I close my eyes, smile and take the leap.
Who have been the biggest influences in your life in terms of your career and the way you approach your work?
There are so many creative people whose work I find inspiring. Artists, such as Hilary Herrmann, designers like Kelly Wearstler along with spirit healers and way showers. As a young girl, the people I most admired were those who took their careers into their own hands and steered their days to suit themselves. I never want to feel hemmed in when I’m working and so I knew corporate life would never work for me and I’d have to be the one responsible for driving my own career. Of course, I’ve been so fortunate along the way to be supported by many different industries from the media through to my creative tribe who have read my books, come along to workshops and bought my product. They influence me the most and give me the drive to keep doing what I’m doing.
You facilitate interior decorating workshops on your property in Byron Bay. In the past you’ve mentioned how deeply impactful they can be for participants at times. It’s not a reaction you’d necessarily anticipate from this type of workshop. What are people responding to – why does it get so personal?
If you’ve read this far into the interview then no doubt you’ll see that I’m not a big one for living on the ‘surface’ of things. I like to dive in deep! The creative workshops I run are not for the faint hearted. They are for those who are serious about unearthing their true creative self and want to do the work to make it happen. The workshops are a means to help one begin the journey of finding their individual creative offering. A way to get the party started, so to speak. Even though the tools we use (design, colour, decoration) are fun and light-hearted in many ways, they are at the core, tools of creation. Like paint brushes or a pen and words (if you’re a writer). The process can be confronting, frustrating and very personal at times. There are highs and lows. The workshops are like a microcosm of what it’s like to be a creative working everyday. They are an insight into how one feels and what their process might be. A mirror. It’s true; they can be very personal however I always ensure a safe and nurturing environment. All of this put together can lead to an unexpected outpouring of emotion for some. Which is exactly what creativity is. And from there, we work on how to mould it. It’s a wonderful, insightful and fascinating process.
As an interior designer and stylist who’s also launched her own range of linen and homewares, what inspired projects of yours do we have to look forward to next?
I’m always thinking of what’s next. I need to keep creating on some level – it’s like breathing for me. I do have a book percolating away inside of me (it’s been brewing for about four years!). I’m hoping to get it into form soon and launch it into the world. There are new ranges in the pipeline and an extension of the product line. My work seems to be morphing into the realm of spirit wellness as this is my major area of interest at this time in my life. I’m working on my farm Graciosa Byron Bay, becoming a wellness retreat so all of my businesses are in alignment with this ethos. I find my career tends to mimic my areas of interest. Although, the home and wellbeing ones are always my main focus.
Shannon’s Quick Tips:
What is your most memorable dining experience in the Mediterranean?
Baguettes, cheese and wine on the beach in the south of France
What are the essential items you take when you’re travelling there?
Swimsuit, throw over and book.
Your favourite beach?
The waters in the south of France are so calm and peaceful.
Best accommodation experience?
I tend to keep it small and simple when I’m travelling in Europe. I stayed in a lovely B&B in Provence a couple of years ago. It felt like home.
Where in the Mediterranean are you heading to next?
I’m heading to Greece in September. My first time ever. Santorini, Paros, Naxos and of course, Lemnos where we will be holding our Creative Immersion workshop with the lovely Carla Coulson and hosted by you, beautiful Paula.
If you’d like to find out more about joining us on our upcoming Retreat, click HERE
Happy Travels…Paula x