A Space for Creativity with Interior Designer Jessica d’Abadie

Studio images by Claudia Smith
Family portraits by Lisa Sorgini

This week we pay a visit to the lovely Jessica d’Abadie, a longtime IN BED collaborator and co-founder of design studio Triibe. While working on an array of residential projects over the past 12-months, Jessica has also been busy realising a project of her own: the renovation of her beautiful studio in Mullumbimby. We spoke to Jessica about taking time to experiment with the space, the evolution of Triibe’s business and what she’s looking forward to for the rest of the year.

IN BED 100% linen tablecloth in stone

Jessica’s table is dressed in an IN BED 100% linen tablecloth in stone.

“When we bought our property about 4 years ago we were instantly drawn to this old run down timber barn at the bottom of the land which was previously used as a pottery studio by one of the first owners. The building was really charming and felt really different to the main house; located at the bottom of the hill and surrounded by lush greenery, it had a really nice energy about it. My husband is from an island in the Caribbean called Trinidad & Tobago, and I was born in Indonesia, so the tropical landscape here really reminds him of home, and me of my childhood.

We knew that we wanted to rebuild our house at the top of the land one day, and so we thought renovating the studio would be the first step in that process, so that we could have a place to live in while [we renovated the main house] and in the meantime, a place for family & friends to stay when they came to visit.”

“I was pregnant with our first son Solomon when we started the renovation so it was definitely a slow process to bring the space to life (we literally kicked the plumber out one day as I was in labour which paused the project for a while!) so it took a little while to complete, but we kind of wanted it that way. Being an interior designer, I'm always designing to deadlines and under pressure so it felt really nice to embrace a slow-design approach to our own home and to let the space evolve as we built it, rather than to have plans that were set-in concrete.”

“What I enjoy most about our studio is the tranquility down there, in spring there’s fireflies in the garden and the sound of nature is really loud because it’s surrounded by trees. I also love the potential the studio has to evolve; we still have plans to add more layers to it as time goes on, to grow some fruit trees down there, and to hand-paint some tiles and tile the kitchen. For me as a designer, it feels like a space where I can explore creative ideas without feeling so much permanence around it.”

IN BED 100% linen bedding
IN BED 100% linen bedding

Jessica’s bed is dressed in an IN BED x Triibe 100% linen duvet cover and pillowslips in moss, flat sheet in cool grey and fitted sheet and extra pillowslips in kohl.

“We built the bedroom to be really spacious with a big louvred window looking out onto the greenery, but kept the interior really simple. When I was a kid, my brothers, along with a friend and I hand-milled and built the bed not far from here at our friends property. Since then it’s come with me everywhere I have lived, so that’s a pretty special piece to me. I had the bedside tables made here by a local steel worker, and my favourite Akari lamp sits in the corner. Ultimately, we wanted to keep the furnishing really welcoming and timeless.”

“I painted all of the artworks in my studio except for one hanging next to the bed which was an artwork I bought last year by Indigenous artist George Tjungurrayi through Utopia Arts. He's an artist I've admired for a really long time and I feel honoured to finally own a piece of his. I also love my ceramic sculpture by a local artist called Anna-Karina Elias which I bought from Yeah, Nice Gallery. I put both of these pieces in the studio instead of our house because I wanted to keep them away from our toddler to keep them safe!”

It’s been almost two years since we spoke to Jessica’s business partner Tina about Triibe’s growing business and the duo’s creative practice. Since then, like many of us, they’ve had to adapt the way they run their studio to weather the pandemic and find new ways to work and stay connected. 

“Time really has flown by! Tina and I have had such a busy year working with some really wonderful people which we feel so grateful for. Covid threw a bit of a spanner in the works last year and our team is scattered around different states at the moment working from home, but we have found ways to make it work and have become so much more digital to stay connected. The last two years have definitely evolved our business, we used to work predominantly doing retail fitouts alongside residential, but since the pandemic hit we are now working on almost all residential fitouts, but we really love it. There’s something about helping someone design their home - especially during this time - where the home has become so important, which feels really rewarding.”

One thing that hasn’t changed is Triibe’s philosophy on design as well as their personal approach to understanding each client’s needs. This is something we experienced first hand when Jessica and Tina collaborated with IN BED on the opening of our first flagship store in Paddington, photographed above by Terence Chin.

“When we first begin a project we try to really get to know the client’s aesthetic - and more importantly, we try to understand how the client wants to feel in their spaces before delving into a project. We don’t believe in pushing a specific aesthetic onto a client, but rather our goal is always to help them to realise their own style so they really feel like the space is theirs. We work around a core principle of environmental psychology when designing spaces; emphasising how our clients want to feel in a space and then designing to create that feeling. We are also really passionate about designing sustainably, and through each project we push ourselves to learn more and to do better.

The INBED Showroom in Paddington that we designed a few years ago is still one of our favourite spaces, it feels so welcoming and warm and we feel like it really reflects the brand and all that it embodies.”

“We also have some really incredible projects in the works at the moment that we feel really honoured to be a part of. We are working on a new home in rural Victoria at the moment together with an architect which has a goal to become Australia’s most sustainably designed home, and part of the design process is to have it registered as a part of the Living Building Challenge. It’s been an incredible experience and the team and client that are bringing this vision to life have been so inspirational.

Over the past couple of years we have also been working on a set of seven holiday homes with an incredible architect in a beautiful town outside of Mexico City called Valle de Bravo which is about to commence build. We are so excited to see these two projects come to life.”

With all this discussion around beautiful design and aspirational projects. We wondered if Jessica had any tips for those of us at home looking for ways to refresh the spaces we’ve spent so much time in recently, without undergoing a full renovation...

“It’s really hard for people to feel inspired by their spaces after spending so much time in them - especially after multiple lockdowns, spaces can begin to feel really stagnant, so refreshing your home becomes really important. Whether you reshuffle your existing pieces or introduce new ones the impact can be really profound.

Your space can energetically shift so much if you give it a deep spring clean & reshuffle. Start by pulling everything out, clean every corner & wipe every surface, and then when you go to put everything back into place, think of new places to put them. Reshuffle art around, reposition your rug, move furniture pieces around - the impact it can have afterwards is really huge.

If you are looking to buy some new pieces to refresh your space, big blocks of colour can really alter the mood such as rugs, bedding or even a new paint colour on your walls.

If you are looking for smaller touches to make your space feel more welcoming, ambient loose-lighting such as a floor lamp or a desk lamp, a mirror, ceramics, or new artwork can really transform how your space feels.”

“We spend most weekends doing something in the garden or house; living on acreage comes with such huge to-do lists, but we both love it and find it so rewarding. When we’re not renovating, you’ll find me in the veggie patch or doing pottery in our shed (which is my next conversion project!). I also love the walks around our neighbourhood, exploring the waterholes around here or going for swims at Brunswick Heads. I love grabbing a coffee or breakfast at Milk & Honey in Mullumbimby, or doing a little drive out to a cafe called Lilium for a slow brunch in the rainforest at Wilsons Creek.”

The rest of the year for Jessica is centred firmly around family, and in particular the arrival of a new family member on the horizon very soon.

“I’m really excited to meet our second baby boy who is due in early November and to slow down a bit before his arrival. I’m also really excited at the possibility of my husband’s parents coming over to visit us from Trinidad now that the borders are opening up again later in the year. It’s been almost two years since we last saw them last and I can’t wait for our son to be able to see them in real life again instead of on a video call. I think ultimately, I'm just really looking forward to spending time with family again.”

Jessica’s bed is dressed in an IN BED x Triibe 100% linen duvet cover and pillowslips in moss, flat sheet in cool grey and fitted sheet and extra pillowslips in kohl. Jessica’s table is dressed in an IN BED 100% linen tablecloth in stone.