Sibella in her Bellevue Hill apartment. Photographed by David Hutton.
IMAGINARIUM Cover by Sibella Court
New knife rack holder that is part of
the blacksmith collaboration
A fraction of Sibella’s object collection. Photographed by Sibella Court.
The Origin of Objects
As a child, Sibella Court had a fascination with collecting objects. Rocks, shells, and ribbons were amongst the treasures that she picked up and stashed away to later visit and imagine of their journeys. Now as a stylist and designer for more than 25 years, Sibella uses such objects to inspire her work, no matter what new venture she undertakes.
Sibella’s design studio, The Society Inc., encompasses her interior design business and her curation of retail products that she sources and designs herself. For those curious to see her latest works, she will be exhibiting her most recent collection of hand-forged hardwares and homewares, designed in collaboration with her blacksmith, at DENFAIR this year. There will also be a sneak peek copy of her sixth book, Imaginarium, which is a large-format, linen covered photographical account of the beauty she has come across in her time as a designer, traveler and collector. Through all of her chosen mediums Sibella expresses her sincere appreciation for history and craftsmanship.
She describes her process by saying “a big part of any project or anything I do is to start with history, and often an object encapsulates the life it has already lived.”
Many years of exploring and discovering these forms has resulted in Sibella’s studio looking somewhat like a giant treasure chest. Her object library is the source of much enchantment and connects her to memories that fuel her creative vision.
To spend time learning about the origin of an object gives it an integrity that is unlike any other. Seeing the “marks of the maker” is what proves an object to be individual and tells the story of where it has come from. By using these pieces in her work, Sibella gives character and complexity to her interiors that can tell stories from worlds away.
With these many creative endeavors, Sibella has not only found an outlet for herself, but also the many artisans she works with. Her little black book is filled with the names of tinkers, blacksmiths, sign writers, whittlers, joiners, dyers, and weavers; the list goes on. All of whom are masters of their craft and help Sibella bring her designs to life.
Favoured materials in Sibella’s designs are as she refers to them “humble materials,” those that get better with age. Brass, timber, rope, linen and steel are all examples of these robust ingredients that form the foundation of her work. The philosophy of selecting materials that wear gracefully is allowing their patina to tell a story; a story of where it has come from, who made it and how it has been used.
Sibella discusses the exciting resurgence of these fine trades in Australia after years of being overlooked and forgotten. It seems people are appreciating the beauty of handmade products once more and now with the help of technology it can be shared on a much wider scale. In countries like India, where Sibella travels regularly, these practices are still thriving because they are necessary parts of everyday life.
Travel has been a major part of Sibella’s life and is the root to a lot of her inspiration. Since she was a young girl travelling with her parents, to living and working overseas and now on her regular adventures. The magic of travel she describes as “not only the things you see when you’re away but how you see them. The light, the shadows, the sense, the sounds, the newness, the strangeness, the uniqueness.” All of these elements are the catalyst for Sibella’s ever-evolving repertoire of creation.
“Scent and fragrance can prompt memory as much as objects and souvenirs. Constantly trying to involve that and layer my interiors with those sorts of things so they have a depth to them where the experience is even more than just the aesthetic.” – Sibella Court