August 16th, 2011

Interview with interior stylist Glen Proebstel, part 1

Words can’t express just how big of a fan I am of Melbourne stylist Glen Proebstel's work. If you haven't already heard of him (shame on you!), spend a few minutes getting lost in photographs of his wonderful work and you'll soon grasp why. Style director of Inside Out magazine and co-owner of props hire business prop.d, Glen is in demand for editorial and advertising work across the country. He’s a busy man so I was over the moon when he agreed to be interviewed by Interiors Addict about his work. In part one of this two-part interview, learn a little bit more about the man and his styling style. More beautiful photographs and insightful answers to come tomorrow…

Tell me how you got into styling. It doesn’t seem that all that many people set out to become stylists, it’s always a happy accident!

That premise rings true. The only styling I was aware of when I was working as a visual merchandiser only existed in fashion or hair. I had no idea there was such a thing as an interiors or props stylist. In the late 90s I was styling and merchandising for a boutique homewares store in Sydney, Empire Homewares. It was there that I was asked by then food editor, Sue Farlie-Cunningham if I would be interested in styling for Inside Out magazine, which had just launched. I was fortunate enough to be given the role as on-staff stylist and from that point my eyes were opened to the world of interior styling and photography. I was thrown head first into a world full of sourcing props, building sets, scouting locations and attending media functions. A fast learning curve indeed and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Describe your style. Does this follow through to your own home?

My style has taken many years to develop and find a place where I feel comfortable. Coming from a retail environment and VM, everything had to be clean lined, linear and sharp. I found it challenging to break my old habits of grouping objects and only working with ‘new’ objects. I was conscious for many years that I needed to change and evolve my look. This is ‘in built’ with any stylist. You are constantly evolving and developing your look as fashion and trends change. The current phase that I am going through uses lots of texture and layering. I love natural fibres and colours and I find working with these textures, comforting and natural. Fashion colours come and go and you can accommodate sets or interiors to reflect these changes, but you need a good base to start from, something to always come back to. This same aesthetic applies at home.

You group things together beautifully. Displaying collections of your treasured possessions is becoming more and more popular but a lot of people just don’t have the eye to do it well. Do you have any advice for them?

It is an art indeed, but not a skill only reserved to stylists and collectors. Over the years, I have found this to be the best rule of thumb: always start with a colour palette in mind. Instinctively, my eyes flit around market stalls and antique shops picking up on things that jump out at me. Pieces that resonate or have a sense of history, a story to tell. From there, I see how it fits into my ‘base’ colour palette which consists of greys, linens, mud browns, suggestions of white and touches of black. This way, when you begin to group or cluster objects on a shelf or in a display, using this limited colour palette appeases the eye and allows you to edit back where required.

In part 2 tomorrow: Melbourne vs. Sydney, how to get into the industry, who he admires and more…