Tribe & Temple provides artisan homewares for a growing number people who value handmade and personal style in their homes.
Disposable, mass produced, copycat interiors say nothing about who we really are. Tribe & Temple is interested in the beauty and diversity of self-expression in real homes – and in the relationship between self and home. We value mindfulness of the process of creation, and conscious choices that let go of what’s ‘on trend’ to find what resonates with each of us and our values. Our homes can reveal our true identity.
Kath O’Sullivan is chief cushion slinger, fabric wrangler, designer and founder of Tribe & Temple. As an artisan, writer and psychotherapist making a new creative life in Bellingen, NSW, Kath’s eclectic past is reflected in her designs.
“I love mixing fabrics and textiles from different cultures and eras to create something unexpected and beautiful. I hope my designs might in some way reflect ideals of cultural pluralism and harmony.”
Tribe & Temple is bohemian in the true sense of the word – global, eclectic, non-conformist and focused more on curating authentic, personally meaningful style, than on trends. I have a colourful aesthetic and an experimental approach to the design process.
I use a mix of vintage and new textiles to create my cushions. Repurposing tribal textiles is a particular interest/addiction!
Many of my fabrics and other textiles are sourced directly from suppliers in tribal villages. Some are pieces of traditional costumes; some are handcrafted using traditional weaving, dyeing or printing methods. Others are new designer fabrics sourced from manufacturers. Including new fabrics in my offering extends a client’s opportunity to choose, and often co-create, something that fits their personal style.
My collection of materials come from artisans in Thailand, Japan, Africa, Vietnam, Peru and India, Mum’s old fabric stash, my late Aunt’s chest full of vintage treasures, surprising finds in op shops, and contemporary fabric design houses.
Online platforms, Etsy and eBay for example, have opened the world up to small enterprises in villages everywhere there is an Internet connection. I source many of my vintage textiles direct from these (mostly) women. I like that these come directly from a small, local business, supporting that business owner and her community.
When I’m designing, I try to honour and be led by the textile itself. What design will preserve as much of the textile as possible; how can I avoid cutting the textile at all, and if I have to, how might I use the leftovers in another project? I have started making my own inserts so my cushions don’t have to be a standard size. This means I can use bits and pieces that might otherwise be discarded.
I love fusing fabrics and textiles from different cultures to create something unexpected and beautiful and will often spend hours hand stitching to maintain the integrity of each material. I hope my designs might in some way reflect ideals of cultural pluralism and harmony while giving the joy of beauty.
Customers will notice that the packaging in which their order arrives will already have done some travel miles. I try to recycle as much of the packaging from my incoming deliveries as I can.
As a point of interest, I also previously founded and ran an ethical creative agency called Active Voice. Our brand, and the brands we nurtured for our clients, was values-led and focussed on personal sustainability as much as environmental sustainability. I try to carry those principles into this business as well.