The Society Inc. Terrace & Warehouse – Inside Sibella Court’s fabulous, maximalist world Sydney-based style queen Sibella Court gallivants around the globe in search of eclectic objects and inspiration for her whimsical design world. And with the opening of her new Airbnb property, as well as her industri-chic decor shop, fashionistas the world over are travelling her way…
Sibella’s travel resume is as packed as any of her ephemera-laden interiors – from a career-kickstarting ten-year stint in NYC to treasure-hunting trips through Ecuador, Turkey and Transylvania. We’ve long loved her beautiful books and dined in restos she’s touched with her style stick (like Palings and Mr Wong), but we were particularly tickled to learn of her new Airbnb property in Paddington, choc full of her characteristic natty curios. Now The Society Inc. Terrace is taking guests, so we caught up with the nomadic nest-featherer to talk favourite rooms, the best local brews, her upsized new decor store and all of Syd’s best spaces, places and makers.
Tell us a bit about The Society Inc. Terrace.
I envisaged the Terrace as a pied-a-terre, a boutique one-bedroom hotel where guests would feel perfectly at home and have all the comforts of home . I also wanted it to be a sensory experience, as if guests were walking through and living within the pages of one of my books. I love that I have the freedom to offer a space that is a complete reflection of me.
Do you have a favourite room in the property?
The main bedroom with Anna-Wili Highfield’s floating owl is probably my favourite. I love that it has everything I need just like a good hotel room should: a comfortable bed, books, everything right at my fingertips.
With so many covetable bits and bobs in every corner, have any guests asked to take items home with them?
Yes, we’ve had some requests. Most of the items have been collected from local artisans so we encourage people to ask about them. And a lot of the time we can help source things for people either through our shop or by putting them in contact with the makers directly.
What places in Paddington do you tell guests they need to check out?
10 William Street has the best pasta and wine list in Sydney. It’s intimate and local – the best! I also love beautiful shop and coffee house Alimentari – owner Lorraine is the city’s best barista, for sure. Ask for the Iggy’s stick with tomato for breakfast.
With your former shop location now converted into the Terrace, you’ve moved The Society Inc. store into a new warehouse in St. Peters. Tell us a bit about the spacious new digs.
We have a massive space now! Half of the warehouse is dedicated to our work studio, the other half is The Society Inc. shop and showroom. It is part haberdashery, part hardware store, and full of oddities from my globetrotting adventures. We have so much room to play with now, which means I can put together larger room displays and host exhibitions. It’s fantastic being able to offer even more inspiration to my customers for their own homes.
Any favourite items or lines you currently have in store?
Right now, the range of hand-dyed indigo textiles from the Western Gulf of Africa. Each is one of a kind and tells such a story. Close seconds would be the surfboards I created in collaboration with McTavish, and my hardware range.
Other than The Society Inc., where should travellers head to trawl for treasures in Sydney?
For vintage eclectics and ephemera, Seasonal Concepts in Redfern. I also love Ici et La for fabulous antique furniture.
And can you tell us a few of your favourite local artisans?
Shibori . They are the masters of textiles, I love using their fabrics. Bednest , who make beautiful custom upholstered bed heads. And miniature boat maker Elise Cameron-Smith , her creations are so fun.
You’ve written several beautiful books (Nomad, Gypsy, Etcetera) about finding treasures on travels and how to style them, where have you found some of your favourite pieces?
Each time I travel I’ll beachcomb for a perfect, grey, egg-shaped stone – it’s easy to overlook those sorts of things but a little rock can be as special and interesting as any antique. I also can’t go past paper ephemera, textiles and fabrics from all over the world.
Can you put too many things in one room?
Never! I’m a maximalist. Spaces should be as intricate and exciting as the owner’s personality.
What are some of the other stylish spaces in Sydney you love? I love going to Kitchen by Mike and Koskela . Both are in the same big industrial warehouse that used to be a cannery – it’s a great space. You can take a plate and pile it up with the day’s salads and seasonal specials at the communal canteen, then check out Russel Koskela’s collection of vintage and designer furniture. And Bourke Street Bakery in Marrickville is another favourite.
And outdoors locations?
When I have time I like to do the Clovelly to Bondi coastal walk. I always stop at Icebergs for a swim, a massage or coffee on the terrace.
You spend half of the year travelling, where are you off to next?
Next for me is Seoul and Ho Chi Minh City, then Copenhagen, London and NYC before I go to Portland and road trip down through San Francisco and the Big Sur to LA.
And which destination are you still itching to get to?
What do you love about Sydney? And loathe?
The beach, light and skyline. There’s not a thing that I loathe about Sydney.
With thanks to Luxe City Guides.