A Designer Shares Where to Eat, Shop, and Get Cultured in Sydney

Lucy Folk's tips for seeing more of the city’s creative side.

Pair of photos, one showing a portrait of designer Lucy Folk, and one showing the interior of her shop
From left: Australian designer Lucy Folk; Folk’s latest boutique, in Sydney’s Paddington district. . Photo:

From left: Anson Smart/Courtesy of Lucy Folk; Raphael Lugassy

With a candy-pink boutique in Sydney’s Bondi Beach and an eclectic, warehouse-style store in Melbourne, Australian designer Lucy Folk is known not only for her namesake jewelry and apparel line but also for the spaces she creates to showcase it. Folk curates them as “worlds of their own,” she explains, each one distinct but bound together by a layered, bohemian aesthetic inspired by her travels.

For her latest opening, Folk converted an elegant terrace house in Sydney’s well-heeled Paddington neighborhood, using soft earthy tones, blond wood and other natural materials, and walls plaster-stamped by hand. The trained goldsmith worked with longtime collaborator and close friend Tamsin Johnson, one of Australia’s most-in demand interior designers, alongside artists such as Lex Williams and Ben Mazey, to source antiques, quirky hardware, and custom fabrics. Playful touches can be found up, down, and all around, from the hand-painted squiggles on the floor to the Tuareg mats that line the ceiling.

Product photos of a robe and hat by designer Lucy Folk
A Lucy Folk Playa robe ($531) and Eos beaded bucket hat ($331).

Courtesy of Lucy Folk

Folk hopes the multi-concept space can operate as a hub for the Paddington community. “You can catch up with a friend in the courtyard, which we’ve stocked with coffee-table books, while the upstairs functions as both an appointment-only jewelry salon and an event space. It’s not just a store, but a place to meet and connect with people.”

Here, Folk’s guide to the best of Sydney.

Museums and Galleries

“I am always in awe when I go to the Sydney Opera House. For me, it’s as essential as the Tate Modern in London or the Louvre in Paris. Just arriving is an event in itself. As far as public art institutions go, the Art Gallery of New South Wales is one of my favorites anywhere. For the best Australian artists, visit Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery. Fox Jensen Gallery has a mix of local and international work, and White Rabbit Gallery is the spot for contemporary Chinese art. Tea and dumplings, too.”

Pair of photos from Sydney, Australia, one showing a margarita on a table, and one showing art in a gallery
From left: A margarita at Cantina OK!; work by Chinese artist He An at White Rabbit Gallery.

From left: Courtesy of Nikki To/Courtesy of Cantina OK!; Hamish McIntosh/Courtesy of White Rabbit Gallery

Food and Drink

10 William St. has a place in my heart. I love sitting at the bar for a date or catching up with friends over natural wine. You cannot refuse their famous pretzel. Alberto’s Lounge has a dark, but charming vibe; the music is exceptional, the Italian food is delicious, and the staff are legends. For the freshest sushi and sake in a casual neighborhood setting, I go to Gaku Robata Grill. And for a mezcal margarita, the hole-in-the-wall Cantina OK!

Retail Therapy

“I head to the Tamsin Johnson showroom to get lost among epic furniture, art, and objects, and say hello to Tam. I often leave with something unique. Greene & Greene, in Woollahra, has amazing vintage jewelry. There is something very Australian about Albus Lumen, but the womenswear and ceramics also have an old-world sensibility. And my mate Patch of P. Johnson has the best menswear and women’s suiting around, all in one of the sexiest spaces in Sydney. ”

A version of this story first appeared in the February 2023 issue of Travel + Leisure under the headline "Sydney in Style."

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