Combining her natural design intuition and fruitful imagination to bring true innovation to life, Tilly Barber is the founder of the vintage furniture brand Homebody and bespoke sofa label Monde. Each of these thoughtful businesses allows Tilly to explore the nuances of design in a way that aligns with her beliefs about earth-conscious practices in the interior and product industries.
We spoke to Tilly about her resistance to ‘fast furniture’, her newfound love for timber carving and learning new skills, as well as how her businesses came to life through finding satisfaction in the art of repurposing.
Three words that describe you.
Hmmmmm I had to ask around for this one….. frivolous, furniture. fanatic.
When do you feel most yourself?
When I am home alone and the house has just been re-organised or deep cleaned (or both).
Did you always know that you wanted to pursue interiors and product design as a career?
When I was at school, I spent my lunchtime building houses from dirt and sticks dirt for my toys and as a teen, I signed up for mail from an interior design school but never pursued it: I went into hairdressing and forgot about it. I have always had a strong sensitivity to interiors and how they feel to be in but it wasn’t until I had a baby that I became fully and irrevocably immersed in furniture and interiors.
Your businesses Monde and HomeBody are both physical manifestations of your resistance to fast furniture and ethos of eco-friendly design, was there a catalyst for you personally to try and drive positive change within the industry?
The catalyst was the satisfaction that came from finding discarded furniture and objects and reviving them or offering them a new life. I felt like I was doing something good for the planet but also for the people that loved the items enough to re-home them - The Market for second-hand and found goods is bigger than it ever was now and I think it's incredible!
Sourcing items for homebody opened my eyes to the circular economy and made me think about all consumables and how in the past design has felt as though it was purely in the name of capitalism and not for the greater good, it is operative that this changes across the board and this is why I felt called to explore furniture manufacturing that is a nod to this consideration.
Monde was an answer to designing beyond use and designing with the 'end of life’ process in mind. Where does our furniture go when we are finished with it, when it breaks or becomes tired and worn? Can we access services for it to be recycled, repaired, and restored - Monde was designed with all of this in mind and I now have a product that’s components can replaced be and returned for recycling and milling at the end of its life - these initiatives are in place so that the product I have designed shouldn’t make its way to the landfill?
On top of being a mother and your many business ventures, you also dabble in pottery, restoration work and beekeeping - are there any other mediums/ pursuits that you’d like to try next?
It's funny you bring this up, my partner and I have recently committed to acquiring new skills each month (he is also a designer). It's a little bit daggy but we’ve been doing short courses together….its been super fun, up next we are learning to hand carve timber - first will learn to make a spoon but I am really interested in carving a wooden comb and small timber sculptures. I'll be learning welding with a friend of mine in his factory this year and later on in the year I would love to do a short course in timber turning. I think my material of choice is definitely timber but I look forward to working with new materials.
Finally, what are you currently watching, reading and listening to?
Currently reading 'The Moon Juice Manual' by Amanda Chantel Bacon. When I have time for television I am watching - B grade Australian drama hahaha and conceited as it may be my own playlist 'Homebody Listening #011' is currently on high rotation.
We believe in the art of good design, but we also believe that our physical environment can greatly affect our emotional well-being. Pieces that not only function well but are also beautiful have the potential to improve one's quality of life by instilling joy in each day. With this journal series, we hope to bring glimpses of joy into your day by showcasing objects, people and places that enrich this world.