IN THE MEDIA: Meet the Australian sisters behind cult furniture brand Zuster

IN THE MEDIA: Meet the Australian sisters behind cult furniture brand Zuster

Words by Kim Wilson
July 22, 2022

Childhood conversations around the dinner table about architecture and design served as early lessons and a source of inspiration for sisters Wilhelmina and Fleur Sibbel.

The dynamic duo behind the uniquely Australian designer furniture brand Zuster come from a distinguished pedigree, their father Meyer Sibbel was a fourth-generation builder of mid-century homes. Their inherited eye for exceptional craftsmanship and design integrity is combined with a contemporary spin on furniture and cabinet-making.

“We have been so fortunate to grow up around design, with our father and grandfather, living and breathing it,” Fleur says. “I remember as a child, being so proud of Dad and the incredible houses he created. “We would visit the building sites … and there were so many design conversations around the dinner table – commonly about quality and design longevity.”

Zuster, Dutch for sister, began in 1994 when Wilhelmina was mid-way through her furniture technology degree at RMIT. “At the time, there was very little choice for designer Australian-made furniture and so we identified a niche and saw the opportunity to design clean-line, contemporary furniture,” Wilhelmina says. “I designed a small bedroom collection and had it manufactured in Dad’s factory. After showing my first client in Hawthorn, I quickly had four retailers and the business was off.”
While “Willy” is the creative force, Fleur has the business brains and saw the potential to grow the brand. “Willy called me the moment she made the first sale. I was so excited for her and could see the amazing opportunities,” she says.

In a flooded furniture market, Wilhelmina says Zuster stands out for its impeccable craftsmanship and unique design. “Zuster design and craftsmanship are uniquely Australian – we don’t look to other furniture brands for inspiration. I am inspired by fashion, architecture, textiles and nature, rather than worrying about what other brands are doing,” she says. “Each furniture item is a work of art in its own right with the layering of materials, textures, blown-glass handles, marble and brass.”

The two of four sisters have worked together for 27 years and have always been close.

“We both have a lot of respect for each other and our roles in the business. We are very similar in our taste and preferences, but have different skills for the business, as well as different passions,” Fleur says. “Willy is an incredible designer and has created such a legacy of designs over so many years while I love business."

"We grew up on five acres in Warrandyte and were always outdoors, riding horses, gardening and starting little businesses at the bottom of our driveway.”

While COVID was devastating for many local businesses, Zuster was fortunate to find a silver lining. “We were able to keep our team employed,” Fleur says. “With bathroom manufacturing remaining open we continued to see orders come through. Many of our customers took this time as an opportunity to redecorate their homes. As we were forced to slow down, the focus seemed to have changed … and the home became our refuge, our safe place and, importantly, our sanctuary.”

← Older Post Newer Post →

Leave a comment