the creative women series

Felicity Rulikowski Aestas

This week we're thrilled to feature Melbourne based design aficionado Felicity Rulikowski. With a wide-ranging career across fashion, interiors and design consultancy, Felicity curated a superb collection of international homewares for her boutique, the much loved Safari Living, for 18 years. 

Her enthusiasm for design, art, travel and life in general is infectious - we so enjoyed connecting with Felicity for this chat. Make sure you check out her IG, it's one of our faves! 

 Felicity at her Melbourne home, wearing the Hera dress in Cobalt.

Tell us about your professional journey - highlights, learnings, mentors.

After an eye opening gap year in Europe, mostly France, I began my work life in fashion which is a great place to start as it is creative, fast moving and requires precision planning. My year away from Australia had taught me about the richness of the experience of travel and the layers it adds to every aspect of life, so that was the other aspect of the fashion industry that I loved, the absolute need to travel. This was the beginning of the eighties so, pre-internet - no email/no websites/no social media! Sourcing textiles and manufacturers was done in person, so wonderful connections were created.

Safari Living was a trailblazer in the Melbourne retail scene, and a beautiful expression of your personal style and passion for design. What do you anticipate the future of retail will look like? 

I think that the seeds for Safari were slowly being sown way back then, the incubation period was lengthy but that helped to create a richly layered story. I had grown up with diverse cultural references in my life, so mixing up cultures and styles was always going on around me. When I decided to create Safari (1999/2000) I again took some time out to solidify the concept, source materials and makers. I spent some months based in Indonesia where I was able to source really interesting natural materials and design and manufacture products that felt fresh and new. In addition, I travelled around gathering wonderful old pieces of furniture, art and textiles already embedded with stories.

The digital world has already altered the retail landscape enormously. Products can be conveniently purchased from anywhere via our devices so already retailers have had to create more inspiring spaces and methods to maintain and nurture customers interest. Covid has just amplified this and thrown in a few more hurdles. I cannot picture exactly how that will play out, but retail will certainly have a more nuanced and inspiring landscape. It will be more fluid and flexible in a world that is forever shifting. We all want less consumption but richer experiences. Taking care of our planet is of the utmost importance so quality and craftsmanship will be valued as it should be.

 Felicity's pin board in her home office.

 Favourite self care ritual/s to unwind?

Self care rituals have always been a priority but I think last year has reminded us all how utterly important they are. My preference is gentle, regular exercise, daily walking and yoga. I add swimming to that once summer arrives. Just getting out in nature is so restorative for me. Country, coast or a local park, whatever is within reach at the time.

Favourite travel experience/s?

could not narrow this down to one favourite travel experience as I have enjoyed every trip I have made both for work and leisure. But, I guess nothing is quite like your first overseas trip and combine that with being just 17 years old, that is a magical introduction to how rich the experience of life can be.

A holiday snap Felicity took in Sardinia in the late 70's.

What makes you feel most alive?

What makes me feel most alive is definitely travel. When I arrive in a new place my senses are so heightened. You see everything with fresh eyes, I am addicted to this feeling. The sense of discovery and potential. Whether it be a dynamic work related trip or a chill out holiday. The opportunity for discovery and experience is potent.

 Cape Naturaliste in Tasmania, captured by Felicity on a recent trekking holiday.

9. Insider Melbourne tips?

One of the things that I love about Melbourne is how many extraordinary walking trails there are within close proximity to the CBD - Werribee Gorge, Merri Creek and the Yarra trails. The magnificent cliff walks of the Mornington Peninsula national park are a treasure, the Great Ocean Road...
And then all the galleries, both institutional and independent, within the city, and the regional galleries (Shepparton, Bendigo, Ballarat amongst others). They have all done a great job of creating virtual experiences for us to enjoy through lockdown but there is nothing like the physical experience of being right in front of art. I love small independent galleries such as Fletcher Arts, which is really more of a salon, driven by Sarah Fletcher's unique vision and style and her passion for combining the unexpected in a space that is the antithesis of the white walls of traditional galleries.

Fletcher Arts.

Summer is our favourite season, what’s a song, taste and place that reminds you of summer?

• song  Ami Oh! - featuring Angelique Kidjo and Papa Wemba with Manu Dibango. 

• taste A long cool, minty Mojito and fresh local oysters

• place Angourie Beach for its laid back old school feel, pandanus lined beaches and lack of crowds

Biggest take away from 2020?

Take nothing for granted.


The album that includes Felicity's favourite summer song - Ami Oh! 

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