SHF Masters: Shay Stark, The Visualiser

There’s beauty in the way buildings are designed, a controlled anarchy. Colossal iron and stone structures, straightened and contorted, on the precipice of falling, imbued with enough figures and calculations, for it to remain entirely logical. These juxtapositions, we drive past, work in, die in, build memories in. All the brainchild of a someone we most probably do not know.

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Stellar Dining Table | Serengeti Chandelier

The Visual Architect of SHF is boisterous; encounters with Shay seem different each time. Grace Kelly meets Marilyn. Amelia Earhart meets Rosa Parks. Shay seems incarnate of all of them, ethereal in the way she slips to and fro. Her mind is based in ideas and fluidity that most can’t see, all whilst being grounded on this plane. Her eye’s run over almost everything, taking in how to improve it, to clear up wasted space, for a clean and clutterless environment, sometimes to the degree of obsession. There’s a notable influence that Shay exudes, the quiet player at the black jack table, holding all the cards, whilst everyone assumes she’ll be the first to fold.

As a female, in a predominantly male industry, the fighter within her surfaces more often than not, quick witted and sharp tongued. Shay is no push over, maintaining an honesty that is rare to find today. Her free spirited demeanour and infectious laugh mask her intelligence. There’s a feeling that she’s been victim to being the underdog more than once, and relishes in the victory. The word ‘no’ is not one found within her vocabulary. There are ‘cans’ and ‘can dos’.

Her office is a mishmash of creativity and logic. A pin board with inspiration alongside a bookcase of decorator books, a bowl with business cards, an empty wine glass and greenery seated adjacent her vintage modern desk. This space is a representation of her. Soft colours and textures intermingled with hardened edges. It’s no surprise that her presence can be overwhelming, and if one did not know better, she could be likened to Anna Wintour. This mother of 3 is the all-encompassing modern woman. Well learned, travelled, independent and above all an equal to be reckoned with.

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Indigo Peacock Scatter | Stockholm in Venetian Smoke

There is a softness behind the 50 shades of Shay, a shyness, or an aura of knowing that we are, because of others. Her consideration for her subordinates and colleagues seems unnecessary, yet, she does so with reverence. This zen like quality, permeating and spreading. She encourages calmness amongst the chaos that ensues within her design & marketing quarters. Freshly renovated to fill the gap of constraining cohesive ideas, walls knocked down and an open area makes for an open-door policy. Amongst her desire for a symbiotic team, is her own unrelenting perseverance.

Discussions are almost always focused upon the well-being of the SHF brand, by initiating the absurd at times; resulting in what always comes out as a masterfully considered concept, originating from a place we dare not tread. Shay brings the best out of people, tapping into the self they tend to fear, it’s a tactic that requires care and attention. Shay is always on the move, it seems the only way is forward. The tail coats of her Burbury trenchcoat dance and sway whimsically to a melody of their own as she zooms passed on an important call, the sound of a flirtatious ‘hey doll’, echoing as she carries on with business.

Shay is quintessentially, the heart of SHF. Sometimes doubted, sometimes wrong, caring, strong, attentive, willing, beating on. Her personality is only matched by her intellect and impeccable style. There’s a paradigm to which Shay views the world, sequential and erratic, blazing hot and frigidly cold, and somehow, it is this co-operative within her, the adaptability, that contributes to the ongoing success of her, and ultimately, what makes her the architect of her own destiny, and more so, a masterful woman, amongst men.

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Louvre Dresser in Vintage Natural | Tenang Goat Chair

‘Between imagination and reality, is the space within which our dreams dare to dance’

– Shay Speirs

Written for SHF by Keanon D


Inspired by the SHF Masters?

Browse through one of the sophisticated SHF galleries in Kramerville, Ferndale, Pretoria, Durban, Ballito, Pietermaritzberg and the Midlands.

Visit their website at shf.co.za.

Like them on Facebook, and #followthemasters on TwitterInstagram and Pinterest


The 2017 Field Report is not about fleeting trends – its about quality and perfection, about bringing back traditional skills and craftsmanship. We speak to the visionaries, icons and experts who shape their unique, lasting and life-enhancing concepts for us to embrace through their designs, recipes, buildings and explorations. Pick up your copy today and tell us what you think on Twitter @Elle_Deco using #2017FieldReport.

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