At home with Mode Sportif’s Deborah Symond.
Vibrant, sleek and laidback, the Sydney home of Mode Sportif founder Deborah Symond perfectly reflects her style ethos. By ELIZA O’HARE
Atmosphere is everything when you’re creating a home, as digital entrepreneur Deborah Symond knows well. She is all about the big easy — in the most luxurious way. Symond has carefully constructed a world around her own style; a pulled-together kind of superluxe comfort that extends from the sanctuary of her Sydney city apartment to her online fashion store, Mode Sportif. The online edit is a reflection of her personal style. Mode Sportif deals in chic, premium athleisure wear and casual pieces, championing brands such as 3.1 Phillip Lim,valentino and Kenzo worked back with labels with street cred such as Nike, Spring Court and adidas by Stella Mccartney. She has a gift for selecting the perfect sneakers, the ultimate sweats and the most luxurious off-duty looks imaginable, kind of like her approach to decorating her home, starting with a structured, well-designed base and neutral palette, adding pops of colour through an impressive artwork collection she regularly rotates through the apartment.
Mode Sportif was born of Symond’s desire to share the sort of luxury leisurewear already in her wardrobe, drawing on her time working as an assistant buyer for Sydney designer boutique Robby Ingham (now shuttered) and as the e-commerce and wholesale manager at Little Joe Woman by Gail Elliott. “I worked for a year to get Mode Sportif off the ground, and here we are two years later,” she says. Over the past six months, the store’s international sales increased by 500 per cent, cementing its place in the online fashion landscape.
While Symond’s sun-drenched three-bedroom, two-balcony pad is low-key and warm, it’s still deeply luxurious. It was the home’s location that prompted her to snap it up four years ago.
“My brother actually lives in the building and I’d always admired it,” she says.“there’s a really beautiful park just across the road and it’s very tranquil. But I also like to live somewhere close to the action, with great restaurants, and be able to walk everywhere.
“I’m an apartment person,” she continues. “I think in different stages of life you’ve got different needs — and right now, in terms of home and location, this is the ideal space for me.”the apartment is sleek and modern with high-ceilinged open-plan lounge rooms and two separate dining areas flowing onto a wide balcony that makes for a perfect winter suntrap. Living rooms are separated by the clever use of floor-to-ceiling sheer curtains that can be drawn to create an intimate space or opened up to reveal the whole extended area.“the lounge is my sanctuary, so when I come home and have about 10 minutes when my phone’s not ringing, I lie here,” Symond says. “I want my house to be relaxed and lived-in — I don’t want to come home to something that feels like a museum. I love entertaining and having friends over, but most of the time when people come over we’re sitting on the floor, on cushions, and it’s kind of cosy and chilled, which is important to me.”
Symond took some interior direction from her design friends at Sydney’s MCM House,charles Hinckfuss andtroytindill.“because I have no time and I just needed to get it off the ground, they helped design the space.they came in and did a consultation, and we spoke about how I wanted it to be. MCM House is right around the corner from our Mode Sportif office [in Surry Hills] and sometimes if I just need a break, I like to walk down there, get a coffee and have a look at some of the pieces. A number of the things in here are from MCM: the couches, the coffee table and some of the consoles. It’s really helped to make it feel more homey.”
The artwork in Symond’s home is a selection of impressive modern pieces. Marc Quinn and Mr. Brainwash feature heavily, and a wall is being prepared for a new Dina Broadhurst work titled Ladies in Waiting. Her favourite piece, though, is Marc Quinn’s Hippopotami in the Thames. “I absolutely love it,” Symond says.
“I want my house to be relaxed and lived-in — I don’t want to come home to something that feels like a museum.”
“I tend to be quite upbeat and vibrant, and that piece is just ‘me’. I adore it and I think it sets the right tone, especially with the neutral palette I have going with the couches and some of the other pieces. I don’t like anything to feel too still, so I move everything around. I got art rails installed so we can just unclip and then clip anywhere, but I do need to get some muscle in to help.”
Movement and change is a recurring theme that reflects her life running a globally growing business, with regular buying trips to Paris and New York. Keeping up this schedule requires a strategy. “At the moment I’m doing an organic-meal delivery service called Hexey, which I’m really enjoying,” she says. “That means very little meal preparation on my part. And I love training. I do yoga at Bodymindlife, Bikram and KX Pilates, which is right around the corner from the office. I also love Pilates Physique and I do personal training with Ben Lucas from Flow Athletic in Paddington, which involves lots of circuits, so we’re constantly moving with a combination of weights, cardio and boxing. It’s 45 minutes of intensity where you feel like you might not make it. But you do.training is definitely my release from work — it’s my ‘me’ time.”
Symond’s style doesn’t just inspire Mode Sportif — she’s almost always wearing something from the store.“i definitely end up with pieces I’ve seen on buying trips and dreamt about for the six months between then and delivery. It’s very hard to shop anywhere else.” Her wardrobe — featuring high-end trainers snuggled up to a covetable collection of Aquazzura heels — is housed in custom floor-to-ceiling cupboards in the main bedroom and spills over into an unused third bedroom containing her extensive collection of bags and sunglasses. “I definitely have a strategy, probably my own madness, but I tend to do it in categories,” she explains. “So I’ll do jackets, tops, evening, jumpsuits, boots, pants and separate things, and then if I’m feeling in a tidy mood, I’ll try to colour co-ordinate to make things easier.”among her favourite pieces are samples destined for the Mode Sportif offices, while a gorgeous creamvalentino trunk, picked up in the label’s Hong Kong boutique, takes pride of place beside her bed. It houses items on high rotation.“i just absolutely fell in love with it about eight years ago and brought it back here,” she says. “It’s getting better with age — wearing beautifully. I really use it; it’s not just a display piece.”
There are two words that keep turning up in Symond’s conversation: polished and relaxed, which apply to all aspects of her style, her business and her home interiors. “Yes, it’s true, it’s got to be comfortable; it’s got to be relaxed but always polished and pulled-together.” Stylish words to live by.
Deborah Symond, in her Sydney home, wears Michael Lo Sordo dress, $700; Spring Court shoes, $110, from modesportif.com; her own Cartier bracelets, and rings (jewellery worn throughout).
Deborah Symond wears Proenza Schouler top, $1449, from David Jones; Kenzo pants, $420, from modesportif.com; Alinka earring, $2100. Above: Symond’s Chloé bag. Right: inside her Sydney home featuring Marc Quinn’s Hippopotami in the Thames and pieces from MCM House.
Above: details in the living area. Left: photographs and illustrations on display; Symond’s collection of sunglasses. Below: Symond wears her own Ellery dress; Pierre Hardy shoes, $610, from modesportif.com; Natasha Schweitzer earrings, $490.
A combination of bright and minimalist pieces in the living area.
Left and above: extensive windows create light-filled lounge and dining zones. Right: the second dining area features the painting When We Opened Our Eyes by Jason Benjamin (2004).
This image and left: the breezy living area filled with books and artworks. Below: Madonna by Mr. Brainwash hangs behind the lounge. Symond wears Céline dress, $3699, from David Jones; Natasha Schweitzer earrings, $490.