Hometown Debrief

Shop, Eat, and Explore Like a Designer in Sydney

by Berit Baugher
Society Well-appointed cabinetry. Photo courtesy of Society Inc.

On a little side street in Paddington sits a charming shop reminiscent of a general store, complete with vintage signage and a black-striped awning. The Society inc. is filled to the brim with curious odds and ends — Victorian masks, rattan baskets, and enamel jugs — which are painstakingly collected and curated by interior stylist Sibella Court. In addition to running her shop, Court is an author and designer of commercial spaces and Anthropologie products. An expert in haberdashery and notions, Court knows the artsy side of the city better than anyone. We asked her to share a few of her most treasured spots.

Local coffee shop/breakfast spot: In the morning I exercise and take a quick dip at North Bondi Beach. Nothing like starting the day and clearing the cobwebs with a refreshing swim. Up the hill is North Bondi Italian (a fave place to have a cocktail — get the No. 8 and crab spaghetti in a bag), and to the right you'll find my favorite breakfast spot. I don't even know the name, but it's where I get my first soy latte of the day. They also do the BEST fruit salad with yogurt and crushed nuts.

Where you go when you need inspiration: Macleay Museum, tucked on the campus of Sydney Uni. It's full of natural history, scientific instruments, stuffed animals, and beautiful bird skins — you're transported to another world.

Best spot for people-watching: Felix at Ivy in CBD. Watch the partygoers head into various bars and clubs while you sip rosé Champagne.

Where is your office? Above my shop, The Society inc. When I hear the bell tinker downstairs, I leave the trestles I share with my assistants (and skyscrapers of paper) to chat with visitors. 

Preferred mode of transportation: My beautiful green bicycle from Tokyo Bikes.

Where do you go when you want to be in the middle of it all? El Loco in Surry Hills. You'll find this Mexican pop-up (so popular, it's staying for good) jam-packed every night of the week with the city's trendies. They have tacos, jalapeno margaritas, colorful stencils in sunset colors, Mexican oil-cloth, and a DJ spinning on weekends. We designed and created this space in just seven days by ripping out the ceiling and painting every surface!

Most underrated thing in your city: Bush and coastal walks. We are so close to nature in the city of Sydney, but most people don't take advantage of it. There's a really good walk from The Spit to Manly. Do it in the springtime when the wildflowers are out.

Most overrated thing in your city: There is nothing overrated! Sydney is gorgeous, I love it. I moved back here from New York, my second home.

Best place for an afternoon drink: If you need to rest your weary feet after a day of shopping and exploring, stop by Neild Avenue in Rushcutters Bay for a cocktail.

Favorite local shops: The Society inc., of course, and Seasonal Concepts in Redfern. There's a great little pocket of design shops in Redfern now, so have a wander and then come and visit me!

You dream about your meal at: Dim Sum Go-Go in Chinatown, New York. Just down the road from my old apartment. They make the best dumplings in the whole world.

Favorite local icon/monument/institution:Bondi Beach. I start every day here, it makes me happy.

The best thing about your neighborhood: Paddington is so leafy and green with wide streets, its unreal.

Favorite local slang: Hoodwinked and trickster! Those are just mine. I'm researching the history of Sydney crooks for a speakeasy I'm designing.

Best book or movie based in your fair city? Right now it's Crooks Like Us by Peter Doyle. All about Sydney's shady past!

No trip to Sydney is complete without: An early morning dip in the ocean — you will feel alive all day. 

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