At Work with Kallen Isaac-Szymanik

Featured Creative

Olivia Renouf
At Work with Kallen Isaac-Szymanik

Kallen Isaac-Szymanik, Head of Residential at Simon James, shares what a day looks like for him at the Furniture & Lighting Showroom and what he's gifting this Christmas.

Tell us about your journey working for Simon James and what a day of work looks like for you in your role as Head of Residential.

I was first introduced to Simon James in 2016 through my love for Sophie Buhai jewellery and I probably visited our Herne Bay store every week for a year coveting the Egg Pendant before I finally purchased the necklace! I have long admired our curation of brands and our commitment to contemporary design, so  I started working part time across our homewares stores and furniture showroom; contributing in various positions throughout the years where my role has evolved to oversee our Residential Sales team and furniture showroom. 

My work day is very dynamic. I spend most of my day with my team, dedicating our time with our clients, supporting interior designers and architects, helping bring their design visions to fruition. I work closely with our international brands and fabric suppliers; establishing these relationships to ensure synergy between our respective visions. Being surrounded by creative and like-minded individuals is very rewarding for the soul, and I truly love what I do and what we accomplish together as a small yet growing team at Simon James.

Featuring the Miller Chair, Cass Stripe Rug and Medici Side Table by Simon James, Journal Coffee Table by Nonn.

Tell us about the Simon James showroom and how you curate the space.

Collaboration is at the heart of how we do at Simon James, so our showroom truly reflects our vision as a team - from our designs we produce in New Zealand, the sartorial excellence of our fabrications, the curation of bespoke furniture and accessories from Belgium, Italy and Japan; blending our philosophy of understatement, craftsmanship and contemporary functionality. 

I am constantly arranging the showroom to ensure it's well composed in colour and texture, balanced in proportion and scale, but also flows seamlessly as you would through your own home. We always have multiple decorative candles burning, the subtle manuka fragrance of our in house oil diffusing our space; take your time to enjoy an espresso or our in house blended tea. There is a growing understanding of the true luxury and comfort of ‘home’ and I am always elated that our clients can appreciate our showroom through all senses.

Being a part of Simon James for the past 6 years, I have learned the importance of believing in your own vision and most importantly patience. Patience to let our vision and furniture evolve and be understood for its subtlety of details, the sophistication of our materials, the nuance of colours, and how we live in our furniture and our spaces. Our curation is always instinctive which ensures our showroom and vision maintains a calm, and enduring sensibility.

What are your favourite Simon James pieces?

I live on my Arcade Sofa - its low profile form is designed for comfort yet it's well-proportioned to integrate within any living space due to its modular system. It's an excellent conversational sofa that invites everyone to lounge and relax. I am coveting the Principle Coffee Table in the matte Ecru finish - the perfect table with its low profile form to layer all my books and candles on! 

Featuring the Principle Dining Table by Simon James, Septennial Candleholder by Arno, Journal Coffee Table and Collective Sofa by Nonn and the Ariake Bench by Ariake.

What are the everyday objects from Simon James that you love?

I adore the Margi Nuttall Ursula Vase which is beautifully proportioned with soft curved lines; the perfect for my favourite black calla lilies. 

The Hurricane Bronze Candleholders by When Objects Works are at the top of my wishlist - minimal, essential and elegant. I can picture three candles set side by side on a dining table, or as part of an outdoor setting, entertaining during the summer nights. It is very difficult to find beautiful hurricane candles.

I have always loved the When Objects Work Cutlery Set - the mirrored stainless steel and its refined silhouette will endure for many years to come, for many to enjoy.

What will you be gifting to your friends and family this year?

Deborah Ehrlich Crystal Bowl… as a treat to myself. I think this is the perfect bowl for cherries, no?

Activist Manuka Munchkins Honey… for nieces and nephews. The perfect stocking gift gesture.

Deborah Ehrlich Curved Champagne Glasses… for my mum. Beautifully crafted, the curved form encourages an effervescent champagne for celebrating!

Sophie Buhai Tassel Keyring…for my husband. We love the drama and elegance of tassels, so I can imagine this keyring attached with the key of an antique french armoire in a guest bedroom.

Emma Lewisham Supernatural Face Creme Riche… for my best friends. I adore this moisturiser, its velvety rich texture brings me a lot of joy as part of my evening skincare routine. Everyone loves a rich cream that gives you the perfect glow!

Sophie Buhai Onyx Paperweight… for the person who has it all. This is a forever piece that could adorned any space.

Featuring the Tassel Keyring by Sophie Buhai, Crystal Bowl by Deborah Ehrlich, Frame Chair by Established & Sons and Ursula Vase by Margi Nuttall.

When do you feel the most creative?

Anytime and anywhere that I am with my husband Roman. We both share the same common interests and aspirations in design, culture, interiors, fashion, beauty. Roman always inspires and challenges me to be confident and trust your instincts. 

How would you describe your personal style and how does that translate across clothing, homewares and furniture?

I would say my personal style is defined by casual simplicity, craftsmanship and sophisticated proportions, which for me, is always about the creation of a garment, object or piece which is invisible to the eye. I am a true believer that if you love something, you will find a way to make it work, which reflects my style and curiosities at home. 

Who are your favourite interior designers who inspire you the most?

Frederic Malle, John Pawson, Remy Renzullo, Rita Konig, Rose Tarlow, Rose Uniacke and Vincent Van Duysen. However, Anouska Hempel will always be the most inspiring - she has such discipline in her design, integrating various styles from different periods to create distinctive yet coherently eclectic spaces. I would love to stay at the Blakes Hotel in Amsterdam designed by Anouska. Very very chic!

Featuring the Medici chair by Mattiazzi.