We enter Stephanie Specht’s apartment in Antwerp on a cloudy Thursday afternoon, where we are immediately overwhelmed by the amount of positive energy, colourful designs and the breath-taking view over the city of diamonds. ‘For the moment, I will stay in Antwerp, but I can never really say for sure’, she says with a smile. ‘Up until now, my life has brought me to so many different places around the world: Cape Town, Brussels, Brooklyn, Princeton, LA,...’
Growing up with the idea that she wanted to become an architect, Stephanie changed course after high school and studied graphic design at college. ‘My mock-ups were really good, but my math was terrible,’ she admits. ‘My high school teachers advised me to go in another direction.’ Years later, she clearly doesn’t regret this choice, since she can indulge in a kind of ‘best-of-both-worlds’ experience. ‘I like the fact that now, it is the opposite of before. When I wanted to become an architect, graphic design was very inspiring to me, yet, for the moment, it's the other way around. It is exhilarating to work with clients that are architects. These jobs are far more than just a project: they make me develop other ideas as well.’
When I wanted to become an architect, graphic design was very inspiring to me, yet, for the moment, it is the other way around. It is exhilarating to work with clients that are architects.
The creative centipede also nurtures a strong relationship with music. It doesn't solely serve as a trigger for her work; she also enjoys teaming up with musicians or collectives to conceive graphic designs or illustrations. Stephanie explains: ‘I think, since the end of 2016, due to my illustrations, I got in contact with Belgian musicians, such as Baloji. He and I, we just matched: we started working together a year ago. We share a mutual interest in the same things such as music, art and fashion.’ And so she designed the cover of his upcoming album as well as doing all the
The Antwerp-based creator also released a book named ‘These five years’. ‘The first version saw the light in 2011; it was self-published. Then, after a year, an editor in Belgium picked it up, and he published it in 2012. It is actually a ‘5-year plan’ that I made.’ And now, exactly five years later she finds herself at a crossroads. ‘Ironically, I designed the book for myself as a reflection on the next five years: what do I want to do? After this period I could take a moment to think about what I am actually doing and in which direction I would like to proceed,’ she tells us. ‘I suggested elements of reflection to people and the pages were designed with illustrations. All very playful.’
‘I suggested elements of reflection to people and the pages were designed with illustrations. All very playful.’
Stephanie muses on about Yara Flinn, the fashion designer behind the brand Nomia, and Maryam Nassir Zadeh, who makes her fashion heart beat faster. ‘Style, to me, is making your personality visible through clothing. You can show which colours you like, and with textiles and textures, you can show who you are. Make your aesthetic visible,’ she replies when asked about the definition of style.
Style, to me, is making your personality visible through clothing
One might say that the future looks bright for the talented graphic designer, but she prefers to remain grounded with a Belgian touch of realism and an eternal curiosity for the unknown. ‘I really need to reinvent my life’, she admits. ‘To work in a different manner. And most of all, enjoy my free time more. Because being a workaholic will not ensure delivering good projects. I think that if you go for projects where you get a bit more breathing space, interesting things can happen.’