5 swoon worthy things: Sibella Court
By Natalie Goel
We’ll admit we’ve been influenced by pared-down aesthetics as of late, but if there’s anyone who sways us toward the “more is more” camp, it might just be Australian prop stylist and historian Sibella Court. Drawing heavily on history and even make-believe, a story seems to unfold in every layered, whimsical and curiosity-laden space she creates.
Sibella’s work takes her all across the globe, both for her design gigs and to source treasures for The Society, Inc., a shop she opened in her native Australia after a decade of living of New York City. The pieces she collected during these travels even inspired her recent hardware collection. Between these endeavors, the numerous books she’s written, and her (many!) more exciting projects in the works, we were itching to pick Sibella’s brain on all things design. Get a peek into her globetrotting, wondrous world as she lets us in on everything from her interior styling rules of thumb to the ways she discovers new artists to her favorite markets worldwide — and of course, the five things she’s swooning.
NAME: Sibella Court
PROFESSION: Interior stylist, amongst other things
HOME BASE: Sydney, Australia
DESIGN PHILOSOPHY: There are no rules.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR NEW HARDWARE COLLECTION. After years of scouring the globe collecting treasures and bits ‘n’ bobs, I have mustered an archive of objects and arcane trades as magical and inspiring as the faraway places they derive from. I have named it after Henry Mercer, who was a huge inspiration — an anthropologist and collector of pre-industrial hand tools.
YOUR AESTHETIC IN 3 WORDS: Layered, tinkered, history-driven.
WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR WHEN STOCKING ITEMS FOR THE SOCIETY, INC.? I source objects that bring back the magic of the faraway places and the people I meet when I travel (everything is far away from Australia!) as well as showcasing the incredible local makers, dyers, artists, smiths, ceramists that I work with when designing hospitality interiors.
INTERIOR STYLING RULES OF THUMB? I don’t like rules, it makes we want to break them. Be brave, don’t be scared, have fun, eat your greens.
FAVORITE WAYS TO DISCOVER NEW ARTISTS? I have always been an information and research junkie, hence my love of history! I buy a reference book a week, I watch movies, visit museums & galleries, I read novels, stories, poetry and history everyday, I subscribe to magazines. My favourite tools are Instagram and Pinterest. I travel regularly, talk to people and try most recommendations. I seek out new artists, makers, creators, master craftsmen through all these many avenues. Then I contact them and say, “let’s be friends” and work together.
HOW DOES YOUR LOVE FOR HISTORY PLAY INTO THE WAY YOU STYLE A ROOM? History is my starting point to everything and if it doesn’t have any history, I am a big into make-believe.
COULD YOU LET US IN ON YOUR APPROACH TO STYLING INTERIORS? I draw on history and create a story, both real and imagined, that inspires the look and feel, colours and patterns, finishes, spatial flow, bars, rooms, furniture, lighting, aprons, napkins, artwork and everything in between, even down to the speciality trades I use.
TIPS AND TRICKS FOR STYLING A GROUPING OF ITEMS OR VIGNETTE? Proportion, mixed materials, great shapes, a variety of sizes. Grab more than you need and edit. Always stand back for perspective.
HAS YOUR AESTHETIC CHANGED OVER TIME? IF SO, HOW? I found a notebook recently from my early 20s and my aesthetic has not changed! Still into the same shapes and materials. But of course your knowledge broadens, I have travelled more, I have seen more and can pronounce the names of most designers now!
TOP CITIES AND MARKETS FOR ARTISINAL GOODS? There are great markets in every city. It is often my excuse to visit one:
Mercanteinfiera Parma, twice a year
Porte de Vanves, Paris
Foire de Chatou market outside Paris, twice a year
Summer markets in Sandwich, Illinois
Alameda Market, San Francisco
Artisan markets in the mountains behind Quito, Equador
COLOR OR NEUTRAL? I wear neutrals but work in colour.
DO YOU HAVE ANY DESIGN ICONS? For style, Katharine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story and Kirsten Scott Thomas in The English Patient.
WE WILL NEVER SEE Pepto-Bismol as a wall colour IN YOUR HOME.
YOU ARE A PROLIFIC WRITER OF BEAUTIFUL BOOKS! CAN WE LOOK FORWARD TO ANY MORE? There is a new one bubbling away in my head. After five in quick succession, I have had a little break and ready for another! Stay tuned and fingers crossed it will be on the stands by end of 2107.
HOW AND WHERE YOU SHOP: I have been shopping my whole life! I like to visit stores and will travel far and wide to experience one. From Nap, Inc. in Okayama, Truck in Osaka, John Derian in NYC, Sawkille in Rhinebeck, New York, The Society Inc. in Sydney, Newrybar Merchants in Newrybar, Australia, Merci in Paris, the list fills many a Rolodex.
WHAT INSPIRES YOUR WORK MOST? Travel, nature, stories, colour, people, trades, objects.
DREAM CREATIVE PROJECT? To seek out all the ingredient trees and plants for my garden in the Byron Bay hinterland to create my own perfumes! That’s a long-term creative goal. In the more foreseeable future, just more of what I am doing — great hospitality projects from start to finish, lots of travel for my books & magazine stories (I contribute to Belle Magazine), the new hardware to hit the US shores, maybe another TV show on all my travels, inspirations, a great documentary show storytelling all the amazing people I meet and places I visit.
ANY EXCITING PROJECTS IN THE WORKS? Lots and lots! Newspaper, new wholesale hardware range and fragrance products, hospitality interiors, a new book…