Friday, July 25, 2008

Interview - Sibella Court

images styled by Sibella Court

If, like me, you compulsively read every interiors magazine in the country, you might have noticed the name Sibella Court popping up here there and everywhere in recent months. In the short space of 6 months or so, Sibella's dreamy NY loft was featured in Inside Out magazine... she's been a featured contributer to both Inside Out and Vogue Living magazines, and there's been a flurry of media attention surrounding the recent opening of her new shop in Sydney - The Society inc. All this attention sparked my curiosity, so i thought I'd find out a little more about the mysterious Ms. Court.

Sibella Court is an interiors stylist from Sydney who has spent the last 9 years living in New York, working for clients including Vogue Living USA, DKNY, Bloomingdales, and Bergdorf Goodman amongst many. She recently returned to Sydney to open her beautiful shop in Paddington, filled with all kinds of special homewares and eclectic finds inspired by her many years overseas. Ahhhhhh. What an incredible creative, exciting, inspiring way of life :)

Sibella's style is eclectic, bohemian, feminine and quirky. She's not one to shy away from bold, clashing colours, striking patterns and textures, or different cultural references. Her work has a sense of 'realness' rather than sterile, flawless beauty.... each image seems to strike a careful balance between new trends and well-loved vintage style - bringing a sense of history to the work. The result is an engaging portfolio that tells something of Sibella's own colourful story.

A big thankyou to Sibella for her precious time, and to her agency RP Represents for facilitating this interview!

You’re originally Australian, but have spent many years working in New York with some incredible high profile clients, before returning home recently. Tell me a little about your varied background - what did you originally study, and what path led you to what you’re doing now?

Received my BA in history from Sydney University and started styling before I graduated at 20.
After a year of assisting became very busy on my own. My mother had an amazing eye and knowledge of plants, shells, textiles, art, crafts, literature and everything in between.
Both she and my father taught me to notice the detail.

It must be a very exciting time for you with the recent opening of your shop in Sydney! How long have you been hatching the plans for The Society Inc, and what challenges have you found in realising your vision?

The Society inc has been discussed and fine tuned for about 2 years. After looking for spaces and then about to in a lease on a space on Greene Street in Soho I decided to carefully consider the 10 year lease with a trip to Australia. Whilst there I made a very sudden decision to move home. Decision made, I extended my holiday to 3 weeks instead of 5 days then flew back to the US and wrapped up my whole life in 7 weeks. I flew out the day after all my shoots finished followed by a 40 foot container. 4 storage spaces and a 2000 sq ft loft worth of props and inventory for my shop.

I went straight into action in Sydney and after a few short months bought the building that my shop is now housed in. A beautiful 1860’s corner shop in Paddington! The biggest challenge has been after living a very ‘buy&live as you please’ lifestyle to having a mortgage.

The Society inc

A lot of creative professionals say that they love the creative side of their job, but hate the paperwork, marketing and the ‘business’ side of things. How do you manage to balance these necessities with the creative side of your job?

I enjoy all parts of the business both creative and managerial. I believe in a tight infrastructure. I prefer not to do paperwork so have always hired bookkeepers, financial advisors and accountants to take care of that side of the business so I can focus on the fun stuff.
On the marketing side, I get so excited about my projects, whether it be the shop or concepting/designing a shoot, that its contagious and I end up being a walking talking PR.
As a large part of my job is meeting new people, talking to PRs, dealing directly with photo&magazine editors, photographers and general ‘girl about town’ this lends itself to all sorts of promotion.

Having a fantastic agent, RPR, behind me: organising and dealing with clients, is as essential as great financial people. To know you're in good hands, lets me focus on beautiful things.

Readers would have seen your beautiful New York home in the May/June issue of Inside Out magazine. How would you describe your own style when it comes to architecture/interiors? How has this style developed over time? Do you think this personal aesthetic carries through in your editorial work?

My personal style definitely carries through all my work.
I suppose I have fine tuned my look along the way both with confidence and knowledge.
My own style is usually a bohemian mix of beautiful things that are both old & new, well-travelled, pre-loved and quirky. Most pieces have a story which I am happy t tell.
In life, I am a collector. I have a love of the found object. However a the end of the day a ball of string can get me excited.

However, despite all this, when I build my own house (house of dreams) it will be Comfortable Modern. Just the essentials: good strong lines, chalky warm whites, great bed, fireplace, all the cooking utensils, flat screen TV, to die for linen lounge , great light, indoor/outdoor.

Sibella's NYC loft apartment (image from Inside Out, May/June 2008)

Which designers, artists or creative people are you inspired by?

Ilsa Crawford, Cy Twombly, Mark Dion, Noguchi, Brancusi, Matisse, James Merrell, Hella Jongerius, Terence Conran.

Where else do you find inspiration – ie books, magazines, your environment, travel, your family and friends?

My mother, travel-places that assault all the senses
Reading history books on Darwin, Tradewinds, Colour anything really
Beachcombing- anything in nature from colour combinations, form, composition.

What does a typical day at work involve for you?

Anything or all of this: Flower markets, shopping, building sets, negotiating with PRs, carrying bags moving furniture, not sitting down/running-all for a beautiful photograph.

What are you most proud of professionally?

Opening The Society inc.

The society inc. interior (image from Vogue Living)

What's the best thing about your job?

Constant change. Ability & opportunity to take your job anywhere in the world. Being asked to do a paint range.

And the worst?

Hundreds of bags & boxes.

What would be your dream creative project?

To travel all year buying beautiful things from faraway places for my shop.

To make my own perfume scent and design the bottle

What are you looking forward to – professionally or personally?

Health, Wealth & Happiness

Sydney/NYC Questions –

What will you miss most about New York?

The accessibility of product.
The open all hours policy of NYC.

What and where was the last great meal you ate in Sydney?

Donna Hay’s house for fish & chips
Longrain for Betel Leaf with prawn & kaffir lime leaves and other delicious secret ingredients.

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

Coffee. Orange Grove organic market buying plants (starting my own potted Garden of Eden) & coffee followed by browsing at furniture auctioneer house, Raffan & Kelaher. Then Relish for my final coffee before opening The Society inc for trading.

Sydney’s best kept secret?

The Society inc.

The Society Inc
18 Stewart st

Tues-Fri 12.00pm-5.00pm, Sat 10am-5.00pm

Styling enquiries to RP Represents


  1. Lucy - you are amazing. What a fabulous interview - I love Sibella's apartment and style.


  2. Actually Sibella, I've featured your apartment on my blog in the past

    I'm off to update it and add your interview here with Lucy too as a link and a link to your representative's office as well - you have fabulous taste:-)

  3. Felicity thanks so much for your kind words! You are always so supportive and encouraging! :) Thankyou !

    You know what its like - blogging away furiously... trying to come up with interesting content and keeping up-to-date with everything in blog land... it's easy to lose track of who is reading. So I really appreciate your comments - it reminds me who I'm writing for... Lucy x

  4. Great interview,can't wait to visit the store soon.

  5. Ive gotta say that Sibella Court is one of the most beautiful women on this earth.

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