How glorious it is to travel. To wander the planet and delight in the cultural and geographical wonder stretching to all corners of the globe. To delve into, experience, treasure … and perhaps even amass the odd memento, souvenir, precious object that found its way to us, whether by chance or deliberately-plotted hunt. Bringing home this beautiful bounty is almost as much fun as the time spent collecting it.
Stylist, author, designer and shop owner Sibella Court has had her fair share of sojourns abroad, and this new book – appropriately entitled Nomad – is a rich-tapestry celebration of her meanderings – from Japan to Italy, Syria to Mexico and India. It is a fat tome, heady with priceless finds – all gorgeously arranged and styled into a living memory book of her travels.
The book’s textured, magic carpet cover hints at the exotic ephemera held within – and the content – artfully styled and photographed, does not disappoint in its variety and lustful earthiness.
Essentially a journal of thoughts and ideas that inspire and delight, Court muses about her inspirations, about styling versus decorating, about packing for travel, and her penchance for the 10-colour palette. She then takes all the baubles she has plucked from these most striking of countries, and moulds them into vignettes all around her home.
First, Court dives headlong into: Japan. And I up and plunged in right after her.
Beginning with collaged snapshots of the streets and indoor wonder of Tokyo, Fukuoka, Naoshima, Kyoto and Mt Koya, Court shares her collected treasures on beautifully-arranged pages, alongside lustrous vistas and fascinating snippets of information, such as her musings on boro and shibori cloth.
Next up is the joy of wandering the Italian towns of Naples, Salerno, Ravello, Positano and Sorrento – and the author’s stylistic take on her snaffled collections is both surprising and delightful, clearly influenced by the seaside location of each town.
In India, we visit Delhi, Jaipur, Jodhpur and the Thar Desert, where muted colours pop off the page and the lively tang of fabrics and flowers and embellishments and strung lanterns tease the corners of the mouth. I love how Court showcases beautifully-designed spaces from the slum to the palace … the contrast is magical, and both are equally beautiful.
In Syria – namely, Damascus and Aleppo – we learn of the Damascus Rose, colonialism, amulets and talismans – even the colour palette of merchants and traders, travel-weary from the silk road – and but for the frustrating confines of a papery page, it would be so easy to walk straight through and stand on the cobble-stoned ground before you, such is the tactile nature of these scenes.
In Mexico City, we learn what colour is truly about. We meet Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. We experience Day of the Dead. We nibble some food, oggle a new take on bringing the outside in, and feel weak with the pleasure.
At the end of your travels through Nomad, you will be treated to a post-voyage glimpse of Court’s reference library of books, music, movies and magazines that help enrich her travels. Also loving the occasional alteration in paper texture through the book, as well as the super cool typefacing and overlapping techniques.
Beautifully-produced, as Murdoch Books always does so well, my only criticism would be that the book’s pages are a little dark. Whilst I appreciate the artistic use of Japanese-style, shadowy pages, the dark typeface overlaying such umbra make it frustratingly difficult to read – and so make me not want to bother. Nonetheless, the gorgeous styling and pictures are a worthy distraction.
Essential for anyone who adores travel – or most particularly – thrives on aesthetics, beauty and the minutia of the often well-hidden cultural detail that can be found abroad. These tiniest of details are ever the most precious, and are always there – if only we open our eyes to see. And my oh my, Sibella Court can see.