The Stylist Alphabet: J is for…

J is for…

Japanese charcoal
Some years ago I visited an exhibition in New York about Japanese tea ceremonies. I spent the afternoon immersed in the details of this incredible ritual and almost immediately started buying similar small utensils and objects with very precise functions. Japanese charcoal is made from bamboo and oaks such as nara, kunugi and kashi. It has a high concentration of minerals and carbon and is used for water purification in the tea ceremony, the bath and even the rice cooker. Simple pieces such as this are elevated by their story or history of usage.


The perfect spot to dip your toes in the water while snacking on fresh prawns or fish & chips.


Decoration for your wrist, or anywhere really.



Perfect in basket form for holding just about anything in your laundry, bedroom, for stacking linen or holding loose bits & bobs. Shop my collection of jute baskets here.


Jars & Jugs 

In glass, aluminium, mason, porcelain & ceramics. For flowers, wooden spoons, water or simply to sit pretty on your table or shelf. Shop my collection of jugs here.

The Stylist Alphabet:
A is for…      B is for…
C is for…      D is for…
E is for…      F is for…
G is for…     H is for…
I is for…


Tips For Planning Your Spaces


Consider the needs of each space: walls may need an interest point, whether it’s wallpaper or some form of art. Ceilings could need a pendant light or mobile. A small room may benefit from a solid splash of colour and a full-length mirror, a large space from a floor treatment. Make every object count.

Before you start transforming a space, view it from every vantage point and at a few times of the day. Stop and notice what you see when you enter, sit on the furniture, walk around the room, turn lights on and off, and open and shut the doors. Take particular note of transitional areas, such as the hallways and the way in which doorways frame the spaces beyond.


Visualise your interiors as sets where objects, art and furniture can be moved or interchanged, and old objects easily moved to make way for new pieces or a different mood. In this bedroom, a floating teak Danish bedside table sits next to a rustic birch headboard, next to a mid-century designer table.

Tradition would have you place furniture in set places, but it’s always worth breaking the rules to utilise space in different ways.


If you’ve decided to apply your chosen colour palette to the entire house, it’s important to change the tempo from room to room, varying the intensity and number of colours you use. Here, the pinks and dusty purples of the paler spectrum have been edited in favour of a few of the softer neutral tones. The effect is quiet and subdued but the addition of the details in the metallic cushions and cut-out fabric on the floor add texture and interest.


Opening Night of Potholes & Great Whites

unnamed-9unnamedunnamed-4unnamed-13 unnamed-12 unnamed-11 unnamed-10 unnamed-8 unnamed-6 unnamed-5 unnamed-2 unnamed-1

The sprawling scapes of raw and relaxed artist Charly Wrencher could never sit comfortably in a sterile vacuum or white cube gallery. His works need something more, something warm and temporal not just a blank space. Pioneering, MacGyvering and reimaging the art gallery brought him to the Society Inc.

Entrusting his enormous canvases of hand mixed pigment to Sibella’s stylist eye; the paintings were woven seamlessly into Sibella’s slapdash imaginarium of hardware & haberdashery, oddities & curiosities. A painting as a lean to against a wall of swatches, the rolling hills of Myocum Glimpse reimagined as a headboard over our four-poster bed made of natural birch – the display was a match made!

Charly’s charcoal scribbles, washed oils and layered pigment were at home amongst the vintage buoys, wooden stools, leather hides, still lives of ceramics and hardware, and of course the statement McTavish surfboards. Guests enjoyed a spread of cheeses, dry meats, marinated olives & French champagne and amongst the paintings were bunches of seasonal blooms by young local florist Sophie Rothwell. A night for the books, we thank Charly for letting his paintings, some of which took over 4 years to paint, into our Society.

‘Potholes & Great Whites’ is running at The Society Inc. until October 10th

If you would like to make an appointment to view the artworks before or after business hours please email hello@thesocietyinc.com.au


My Trip To Japan


Travelling companions: the Anthropologie team, Mitzie, Aaron and Wendy.

Kurokawa Onsen
Mt. Koya
Styling- Sibella Court Photography- Chris CourtEtcetera0009

I have a large collection of all things Japanese handmade. Not only textiles, but wooden combs with long stems, paintbrushes made of feathers, carved seals with tiny round red ink pads, woven travelling sake cups, metal letterpress pieces, wrapped stones, tea ceremony ladles, bone and ebony game pieces, hand-thrown ceramic cups & bowls, calligraphy books, brooms & cleaning brushes, mini gardening tools, reed woven slippers, copper tulip-shaped rainchains etc.

My mother was very good at adding to this ever-growing collection of bits & pieces.

All these precious things fit into my very romantic view of Japan: firefly-lit paper lanterns, intricate seasonal kimonos, wooden shoes on cobblestone streets, kingfisher hairpins, sitting cross-legged  on a tatami mat practising calligraphy or preparing for the tea ceremony.


While visiting Kyoto, I added to my collection of handmade brooms. Not all things bought on trips need to be souvenirs as such – consider everyday functional objects that look great, & think of the person who made them.

Modern Japan
Naoshima was established as an art island in the south of Japan. The Benesse House and Chichu Art Museum, designed by Tadao Ando, had been on my list for a long time.

Going to a purpose-built and designed art space on an island in the Seto Inland Sea was such a pure experience. It’s called the Art House Project and is made up of scattered buildings and site-specific sculptures, old and new.

Art museums make up a big part of my travel inspiration and itinerary.

Noguchi, a Japanese-American, is one of my all-time favourite artists. There is an amazing Noguchi museum in Long Island City, new York, that I have visited so many times, and was curious to see how Modern Japan sat with the Edo style I love so much.


One of my true passions is paper: stationery, lanterns, fans, kites, books, packaging, origami, woodblocked sheets, indigo-dyed, stencils, bags, tags of all descriptions, plates & cups, envelopes, notebooks, string, confetti, card – you name it, I love it.

And the Japanese crafters who make all these things: paper lanterns with shop names hand-painted on them; the large, over-sized sheets that look like lace, or have leaves embedded in them; the simplicity of a classic diamond-shaped kite or the complexity of a moving, flying dragon; the festivity of streaming multi-coloured street decorations; lacquered all-weather umbrellas paper-pasted on a bamboo skeleton; the feather-weight of the finest mulberry paper, bound and stitched, for practising calligraphy; the crunchiness of gold leaf-backed ancient scrolls housed in its original balsawood box and the intricate patterned squares for origami. As you can see, I embrace all things paper.


My good friends Karman and Paul who own Edo Arts in Sydney started my love affair of boro many years ago. Boro is well-worn, pre-loved-many-times patched indigo fabric usually found in sheet-like sizes used for covering futons.

It is a peasant fabric and definitely not museum worthy. However, that’s the appeal of it. The mends, the patches, the stitches – the more the merrier! I love the hand-touched, history quality of these pieces and remnants.

Another textile technique that is found in the indigo world is shibori, a tie-dye technique where cotton or silk is expertly and finely wrapped with thread then dipped into indigo vats (several times, depending on the desired colour density). You tend to discover this narrower fabric but it can come in long lengths, especially in cottons.

I was able to visit famous indigo dyer Aizen Kobo in Kyoto and spent an afternoon drinking tea, learning about his craft and having access to his amazing sample books and library.


One of the many things I noticed in Japan was that there was no space too small for a potted garden, whether along the side of a building and curb, guttering of a building, front of a house, even under a chair or hanging.


Throughout Japan you see the copper rainchains that look like flowers and act as downpipes. I have used mine as decoration, waiting for the day I have copper guttering to match. In Japan, they speak of balance in the placement and presentations of objects. It’s a harmony that’s not symmetrical or matching but a simple, quiet considered, understated, less-is-more kind of quality. This is known as wabi-sabi.

There was so much take in as I travelled through the towns and cities, I found myself noting down moments amongst the hustle & bustle:

Went through the busiest intersection in the world. Lots of umbrellas. There is even an umbrella lock-up station.

Everything in Japan has a place to go and something to go in: envelopes, boxes, containers, cloth, chests, drawers, all size bags.

Dr Suess trees sit outside wooden houses with dragon scale roof tiles.


Spiderwebs covered in morning mountain dew build on trees hanging onver the river.

Japanese firemen wear heavy quilt and woven indigo-dyed jackets and helmet hats. The reason for this (as the indigo guy demonstrated) is that indigo does not burn! I try it on a white plate and light a small remnant.

Get thoroughly distracted by long street of brightly coloured streamers, floating decorations. Both sides of street heavily decorated. So festive but got super lost.

Gardens planted so deliberately seasonally.

Such a strong colour palette appeared to me – the hues that thrummed through the places I visited were clearly part of Japan’s make up. Here, I detail my Japanese colour palette. See how I brought Japanese style home and check out my tips for places to visit.



IMG_0473 IMG_0474 IMG_0537 IMG_0549 IMG_7176 IMG_7197 IMG_7241 IMG_8590 IMG_8663 IMG_8889 IMG_8927 unnamed-1 unnamed-2 unnamed

Gervasoni Homestead is nestled in the hills of Yandoit -this area is unbelievably picturesque & teaming with talented creatives. Any precious downtime or an early arrival would mean visiting super cool places from David Bromley’s imaginarium shed outside of Daylesford, Katie Marx (florist & forager) and Greg Hatton (furniture maker), Butterland in Newstead, Daylesford market or just hanging out at Lynda Gardener’s ultimate houses (to rent), The White Room, Daylesford & The Estate and Trentham.

This stone homestead is seeped in Swiss-Italian traditions, built in 1852, made up with 3 dwellings (or ruins!). The colours of this landscape & the ever growing caramel menagerie of Marine’s is beautiful to see – if you are looking for road trip inspiration, this is it!

Tune in to ABC on Tuesdays 8:30PM or ABC iView


The Stylist Alphabet: I is for…

I is for…

Call it serendipity or simple coincidence, but it seems just about every colour to which I’m drawn has a textile alter-ego. Indigo textiles have origins rooted in the ancient times of many Asian countries, in particular Japan, as indigo dyes from the flower of several species of plant were one of the easiest to source and most inexpensive natural coverings available. My favourite of these are Boro, the repeatedly mended rags worn or used for bedding by rural peasants in Japan. Often heavily stitched and patched, the shades of blue give them a depth and history that is irresistible. Shop my collection of indigo cloth here.http://shop.thesocietyinc.com.au/collections/indigo-cloth

Lots of people like blue. I wonder why? I am definitely a culprit as is my great friend, textiles expert Sally Campbell, We are often found talking of indigo and all its fabulous qualities. My memories of indigo discovery always make me smile (sometimes a happy sad): visiting a natural dyer’s in Central Asia with my mum; searching down the best piece of boro in Tokyo with Aaron and Mitzie from Anthropologie; fondly talking about mends & patches with Sally; pulling and spreading out a new shipment of textiles in the warehouse with Karmn and Paul from Edo Arts. Good memories, I want to wrap myself up in them. On a recent trip to an artisan market in the highlands of the Andes, I bought the cloths people brought their wares in. Much to their amusement, I loved the mends & patches on the woven cotton blues.

I am always attracted to the unusual and the curious, and hunt them out in various markets – preferably the sort with goods spilling out the back of vans, natural history museums, both small and large, artists’ ateliers, historic houses, and traders’ workshops etc. The appeal of old trades & crafts that still exist from textile dyers and embroiderers, shell arts, wood turners & mills, paper makers, smiths & tinkers, foundries, leather workers & tanneries, felters, basket weavers etc are always at the forefront of any of my exploring both across the globe and in my local environment.



An important thing to listen to and be conscious of at all times. Not to be dismissed as an important tool/talent.

The Stylist Alphabet:
A is for…      B is for…
C is for…      D is for…
E is for…      F is for…
G is for…     H is for…